beaches jazz festival

Your guide to the Beaches Jazz Festival 2015 in Toronto

The 2015 Beaches Jazz Festival in Toronto runs over three weekends from July 10th to 26th. The festival is in its 27th year running and has expanded beyond jazz to showcase world music, indie rock, a cappella and everything in between. This year's festival features more than 100 bands, workshops, community art projects and even a Pan Am celebration.

Here are my picks of what to do and see at the 2015 Beaches Jazz Festival.

Farmers' Market Jazz Series / July 9-19
Shop at two of the city's best farmers' markets to the tunes of live bands. Join the Toronto All-Star Big Band and Discovery Through the Arts on July 12th and 19th at the The Leslieville Farmers' Market, and on July 9th and 16th at the East Lynn Park Farmers' Market.

Pan Am Fiesta / July 10-12
This year's festival kicks off with a Pan Am celebration in Woodbine Park, as two main stages showcase the international diversity represented in the games. Belgian electronic duo Arsenal headline with local 8 piece funk band KC Roberts & The Live Revolution on July 10th. Look out for the Pan Am Indie Stage, which will bring a mellow indie rock vibe featuring the likes of Faye Blais and Sultans of String.

Jazz In Motion / July 11-20
Thanks to a 2014 Ontario Trillium Foundation Community Grant, this year the Beaches Jazz Fest is adding four new multi-arts initiatives to its usual photo exhibition programming. Among these is the Community Mural Workshop Project, which will feature a kids mural station by the Youth Stage, and an all-ages mural workshop by the Pan Am Indie Stage and Party Island Stage.

Beaches Tune Up Jazz Run / July 12
This annual run raises funds for patient care at the Toronto East General Hospital. Join others on the Beaches Boardwalk for an early morning walk, jog or run that lets you set the pace: 5k, 10k or 20k. This event serves as an official training run for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October - which means it's the perfect low-pressure supportive environment to assess your fitness level and set a marathon goal.

SING! A Cappella Stage / July 17-19
New to the Jazz Fest, this year features an a cappella stage in Woodbine Park with some of the best vocal talent our city has to offer. If you're into traditional barbershop, catch the Yonge Guns Quartet on July 17th; if you're into modern pop, Countermeasure might be more your style on the 18th; and if you're into indie, relax with The O'Pears on the 19th.

Music Workshops - July 20-22
This year's free jazz lectures and instrumentation workshops continue, this time featuring a group ukulele jam. Appropriate for all ages and run by local pros, you're going to want to register early to get in.

Taste of Jazz / July 21-22
Join the line-up of 15 gourmet food trucks surrounding the Main Stage area in Woodbine Park on July 21st and 22nd from 5-10pm. Grab a burger and head to the beer and wine garden to enjoy while listening to the sounds of the Quincy Bullen Band and the Toronto All-Star Big Band.

StreetFest / July 23-25
The final signature event of the festival, StreetFest is a big musical street party that takes over a two-and-a-half kilometre stretch of Queen Street East between Woodbine Avenue and Beech Avenue. Get ready for thousands of people to fill the streets as dozens of bands play three sets from 7:00pm-11:00pm nightly. While you're there, take a look at the windows of local businesses, as they compete to win a prize for best jazz themed window.

Kew Beach World Beat Stage / July 23-26
Located in the parking lot of the Beach United Church on Wineva Avenue just north of Queen Street East, this new stage combines spirituality with jazz music (and funk, world and soul), culminating in a Jazz Worship Service at 10:00am on July 26th.

Big Band Stage / July 24-26
The Big Band Stage in Woodbine Park is a celebration of music from the 1930s to the 1950s, with sounds from the Golden Era, swing dance demos and stage-side dance lessons. Join local dance students from Bees' Knees Dance school as they Lindy Hop, Charleston and Balboa to the sounds of the Swing Shift Big Band and Bob Cary Orchestra.

What did I miss? Add your Beaches Jazz Festival picks to the comments, and download the full program (PDF) for more details.

Photo by Bruce K in the blogTO Flickr pool.


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