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The Bansko Jazz Festival– Line Up, Program And More


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Meggy Ferreira



Welcome to the enchanting world of the Bansko Jazz Festival, Bulgaria’s premier jazz event that attracts music lovers from around the globe. Nestled in the picturesque town of Bansko, at the foot of the breath-taking Pirin Mountains, this festival is a celebration of soulful melodies, captivating rhythms, and the sheer joy of jazz music. Whether you are a seasoned jazz enthusiast or a curious newcomer to the genre, the Bansko Jazz Festival promises an unforgettable experience.


With its rich history, diverse line-up of artists, and vibrant atmosphere, the festival has firmly established itself as one of the most prestigious jazz festivals in Europe. Every summer, the scenic town of Bansko comes alive with the sounds of trumpets, saxophones, pianos, and drums, as world-class musicians take to the stage to showcase their talents.


From its humble beginnings in 1998, the Bansko Jazz Festival has grown exponentially, attracting a growing number of jazz aficionados and renowned artists year after year. What started as a local cultural event has evolved into an international music extravaganza, showcasing a wide spectrum of jazz styles, from traditional to contemporary.


The festival’s unique charm lies not only in its extraordinary location, surrounded by the stunning natural beauty of the Pirin Mountains, but also in its warm and welcoming spirit. The friendly and laid-back atmosphere creates a sense of community among music lovers, creating a space where everyone can come together to appreciate the magic of jazz.


Whether you’re sipping a glass of Bulgarian wine while lounging on the grassy meadows that serve as the venue, or tapping your feet to the rhythm in the eclectic bars and clubs in town, the Bansko Jazz Festival offers a sensory feast for music enthusiasts.


Join us as we delve into the captivating history, remarkable line-up, and exciting program schedule of the Bansko Jazz Festival. Prepare to immerse yourself in the world of jazz and experience the magic and splendor of this incredible event.


History of the Bansko Jazz Festival

The Bansko Jazz Festival had its humble beginnings in 1998 when a group of jazz enthusiasts joined forces to organize a small-scale event to celebrate the beauty of jazz music. Inspired by the rich musical heritage of Bansko and the growing popularity of jazz in Bulgaria, they aimed to create a platform for local and international jazz musicians to showcase their talents.


Over the years, the festival gained traction and expanded, attracting an increasing number of visitors from all corners of the world. What started as a modest gathering of jazz enthusiasts quickly grew into a renowned international event.


One of the main factors contributing to the festival’s success is its commitment to presenting a diverse range of jazz styles. From traditional jazz to fusion, Latin, blues, and contemporary jazz, the Bansko Jazz Festival embraces the full spectrum of the genre, ensuring there is something for every music lover.


In addition to the impressive line-up of musicians, the festival is also well-known for its idyllic location in the heart of Bansko. Surrounded by the magnificent Pirin Mountains, the scenic beauty of the town serves as a breathtaking backdrop to the soulful melodies and vibrant rhythms of the jazz performances.


Throughout its history, the Bansko Jazz Festival has welcomed some of the biggest names in the jazz world. International jazz legends such as Roy Hargrove, Billy Cobham, Randy Brecker, and Marcus Miller have graced the stage, enthralling audiences with their virtuosity and musicality.


Moreover, the festival has become a platform for local talent, providing an opportunity for Bulgarian jazz musicians to showcase their skills alongside renowned international artists. This blend of established and emerging talent creates a unique and dynamic atmosphere during the festival.


Over the years, the Bansko Jazz Festival has garnered critical acclaim and recognition. It has received numerous prestigious awards, including the European Jazz Network Award for Best European Jazz Festival in 2013, further solidifying its position as a must-attend event for jazz aficionados.


As the festival continues to grow and evolve, it remains committed to promoting jazz as a vibrant and timeless art form. The Bansko Jazz Festival serves as a testament to the power of music to bring people together and transcend cultural boundaries, creating a truly unforgettable experience for all who attend.


Line Up of the Bansko Jazz Festival

The Bansko Jazz Festival is renowned for its impressive line-up of world-class jazz musicians. Each year, the festival committee carefully selects a diverse range of artists, ensuring a captivating and eclectic mix of performances. From jazz legends to emerging talents, the line-up offers a dynamic and unforgettable musical experience for attendees.


The festival attracts top-tier jazz artists from around the world, showcasing a variety of jazz styles and sub-genres. Whether you’re a fan of smooth jazz, traditional swing, Latin jazz, or experimental fusion, you’ll find something to suit your musical preferences at the Bansko Jazz Festival.


The festival’s line-up often includes both international icons and rising stars in the jazz world. From virtuoso instrumentalists to soulful vocalists, the talent on display is unparalleled.


Past editions of the Bansko Jazz Festival have featured performances from jazz legends such as John Scofield, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, and Al Di Meola. These influential musicians have delighted audiences with their masterful improvisations and groundbreaking compositions.


In addition to the established jazz luminaries, the festival also provides a platform for emerging talent from Bulgaria and beyond. This gives attendees the opportunity to discover new and exciting artists and witness their growth on the jazz scene.


Moreover, the line-up often includes collaborative projects and special one-time performances. This results in unique and unforgettable moments where musicians come together to create magical and improvised musical experiences.


Equally important is the festival’s dedication to promoting Bulgarian jazz musicians. The line-up often includes prominent Bulgarian artists, allowing the local talent to shine on an international stage. This not only showcases the rich jazz culture of the country but also fosters a sense of pride among the Bulgarian jazz community.


Whether you’re a jazz purist or someone exploring the genre for the first time, the Bansko Jazz Festival’s line-up promises to deliver an extraordinary musical journey. With a mix of iconic performers, rising stars, and local talent, the festival offers a diverse range of jazz experiences that will captivate and inspire attendees.


Stay tuned for the announcement of the upcoming festival’s line-up and prepare to be immersed in the mesmerizing world of jazz at the Bansko Jazz Festival.


Program Schedule of the Bansko Jazz Festival

The program schedule of the Bansko Jazz Festival is meticulously crafted to provide a seamless and unforgettable musical experience for attendees. From the moment you step foot in Bansko, you’ll be immersed in a world of jazz, with performances taking place at various venues throughout the town.


The festival typically spans several days, with a jam-packed schedule of performances, workshops, and special events. Each day offers a lineup of diverse and captivating jazz acts, ensuring there’s something for everyone to enjoy.


The festival kicks off with an opening ceremony that sets the tone for the upcoming days. Spectators are treated to an electrifying performance by a renowned jazz artist, creating an atmosphere of anticipation and excitement.


The program schedule includes performances by both local and international jazz musicians, showcasing a variety of jazz styles and sub-genres. From intimate solo piano recitals to energetic big band performances, the festival offers a rich tapestry of musical experiences.


In addition to stage performances, the festival also incorporates workshops and masterclasses led by jazz experts. These sessions provide a unique opportunity for aspiring musicians and jazz enthusiasts to learn from industry professionals, gaining insights into the artistry and techniques behind jazz music.


Throughout the festival, attendees have the chance to explore the charming town of Bansko, as various venues and stages are set up in different locations. From historic squares to open-air stages, each venue adds a distinctive ambiance to the performances, enhancing the overall experience.


Moreover, the festival often includes special events, such as late-night jam sessions and themed concerts, which offer a more intimate and interactive setting for jazz lovers. These events create opportunities for spontaneous collaborations and improvised performances, adding an element of surprise and spontaneity to the festival.


It’s important to note that the schedule is subject to change, as the festival committee may add or modify performances based on artist availability and logistical considerations. Therefore, it is recommended to regularly check the festival’s official website or program guide for the most up-to-date information.


The program schedule of the Bansko Jazz Festival is thoughtfully designed to engage, entertain, and inspire jazz enthusiasts of all ages and backgrounds. Whether you prefer an afternoon of smooth jazz or an evening of high-energy improvisation, the festival offers a diverse and captivating array of performances that will leave you wanting more.


Get ready to immerse yourself in the world of jazz and experience the magic of the Bansko Jazz Festival.


Tickets and Venue Details

Attending the Bansko Jazz Festival is an exciting opportunity to immerse yourself in the world of jazz and experience the magic of live performances in the charming town of Bansko. To ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the ticketing process and venue details.


Tickets for the Bansko Jazz Festival can typically be purchased online through the festival’s official website. It’s advisable to book your tickets in advance, as the festival tends to attract a large number of attendees and popular performances may sell out quickly. The ticket prices vary depending on the type of pass you choose, such as a day pass or a multi-day pass. Additionally, the festival often offers special early bird discounts for those who book their tickets well in advance.


The festival takes place at various venues throughout the town of Bansko, each adding its own unique charm to the performances. These venues include outdoor stages, historic squares, and cultural centers. The main stage is typically set up in the town’s central square, creating a vibrant and lively atmosphere for attendees to enjoy the music.


When planning your visit to the Bansko Jazz Festival, it’s a good idea to consider accommodation options in the town. Bansko offers a range of hotels, guesthouses, and vacation rentals to suit different budgets and preferences. It’s advisable to book your accommodation well in advance, as rooms can fill up quickly during the festival. Additionally, Bansko is known for its beautiful scenery and outdoor activities, so taking some time to explore the area during your stay is highly recommended.


Transportation to Bansko is relatively straightforward, with several options available. The nearest airport is Sofia Airport, which is approximately a two-hour drive from Bansko. There are regular bus services that connect Sofia and Bansko, as well as private transfer options for those who prefer a more convenient mode of travel.


During the festival, it’s important to stay hydrated and nourished. Bansko offers a range of dining options, from local Bulgarian cuisine to international fare. You can enjoy a delicious meal at one of the town’s many restaurants or grab a quick bite from the food stalls and vendors set up near the festival venues.


Lastly, don’t forget to bring comfortable footwear and clothing, as you may be spending a significant amount of time walking between venues and enjoying outdoor performances. It’s also a good idea to bring a blanket or a folding chair to ensure you have a comfortable seating option during the festival.


With proper planning and preparation, attending the Bansko Jazz Festival promises to be a memorable experience. Immerse yourself in the enchanting world of jazz, enjoy the performances at diverse and picturesque venues, and create unforgettable memories at this remarkable music festival.


Highlights of Past Festivals

Over the years, the Bansko Jazz Festival has delivered countless memorable performances and unforgettable moments. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights from past festivals that have left a lasting impression on attendees:

  • Iconic Headliners: The festival has attracted legendary jazz musicians who have graced its stages with their extraordinary talent. Artists like Al Jarreau, George Benson, and Candy Dulfer have captivated audiences with their soulful performances, leaving an indelible mark on the festival’s history.
  • Bulgarian Jazz Showcase: The festival has always been committed to promoting local Bulgarian jazz talent. Many renowned Bulgarian jazz artists have taken center stage, including Theodosii Spassov, Milcho Leviev, and Vasil Petrov, captivating audiences with their unique blend of Balkan influences and jazz improvisation.
  • Unforgettable Collaborations: The Bansko Jazz Festival has provided a platform for unexpected and enchanting collaborations between artists. Spectators have witnessed magical moments when musicians from different genres and backgrounds come together on stage, creating spontaneous and extraordinary musical experiences.
  • Open-air Performances: The festival’s outdoor stages have created a magical ambiance, allowing attendees to enjoy jazz music under the open sky. From afternoon concerts bathed in warm sunlight to captivating performances under the stars, the outdoor settings have added an extra layer of charm to the festival experience.
  • Special Tribute Performances: The festival has paid tribute to jazz legends through special performances dedicated to their music and legacy. From tributes to Miles Davis and John Coltrane to honoring Bulgarian jazz icons, these heartfelt performances have celebrated the immense contributions of these influential musicians.
  • Jazz Education Workshops: In addition to the performances, the festival has offered educational opportunities through workshops and masterclasses. Budding musicians and jazz enthusiasts have had the chance to learn from esteemed musicians, honing their skills and deepening their understanding of the genre.
  • Intimate Jazz Club Experience: Alongside the larger outdoor stages, the festival has hosted performances in intimate jazz clubs and bars. These cozy venues have allowed for up-close and personal experiences, creating a sense of connection between the artists and the audience.

The Bansko Jazz Festival has built a legacy of delivering exceptional jazz performances, fostering cultural exchange, and supporting the growth of the jazz community. The highlights from past festivals serve as a testament to the festival’s commitment to excellence and its dedication to showcasing the very best of jazz music.


As the festival continues to evolve and surprise its attendees year after year, there is no doubt that more unforgettable moments are waiting to be created at future editions of the Bansko Jazz Festival.


Tips for Attending the Bansko Jazz Festival

Attending the Bansko Jazz Festival is an exciting and immersive experience. To make the most of your time at the festival, here are some helpful tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience:

  • Plan and book in advance: The festival attracts a large number of visitors, so it’s advisable to plan your trip and book your tickets and accommodation well in advance. This will help secure your spot and give you more options to choose from.
  • Check the program and create a schedule: Take the time to review the festival’s program schedule and create a schedule of the performances you wish to attend. This will help you make the most of your time and ensure you don’t miss out on any of your favorite artists.
  • Arrive early: To secure a good spot and avoid any last-minute rush, make sure to arrive at the venues early, especially for popular performances. This will give you ample time to find a comfortable spot and soak in the pre-show atmosphere.
  • Come prepared: Take note of the weather conditions and dress accordingly. Bansko’s mountainous location means that temperatures can vary, so it’s a good idea to bring layers or a light jacket. Additionally, don’t forget to bring essentials like sunscreen, a hat, and a water bottle to stay hydrated throughout the day.
  • Explore the town: Take some time to explore the charming town of Bansko during your visit. It offers a range of local shops, restaurants, and historic sites that are worth exploring. Enjoy the local cuisine, stroll through the narrow streets, and embrace the unique atmosphere of this beautiful mountain town.
  • Be respectful of the artists and fellow attendees: During the performances, ensure that you respect the artists and other attendees by refraining from talking loudly or using your phone. This will help create a more enjoyable experience for everyone and allow everyone to fully appreciate the music.
  • Engage with the festival community: The Bansko Jazz Festival is known for its friendly and welcoming atmosphere. Take the time to connect with fellow attendees, share your love for jazz, and create lasting memories with like-minded individuals. Engaging with the festival community can enhance your overall experience and make your time at the festival even more rewarding.
  • Embrace the unexpected: The Bansko Jazz Festival often offers surprises and impromptu performances. Be open to experiencing new artists, spontaneous collaborations, and unique musical moments. Sometimes, the most unexpected performances can turn into the most memorable highlights of the festival.

Remember, the Bansko Jazz Festival is a celebration of jazz music and a gathering of passionate music enthusiasts. By following these tips and immersing yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the festival, you’ll be sure to have an incredible and unforgettable experience at the Bansko Jazz Festival.


Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about the Bansko Jazz Festival:

  • When is the Bansko Jazz Festival? The dates for the Bansko Jazz Festival can vary from year to year, but it is typically held in the summer between June and August. It is recommended to check the festival’s official website or program guide for the specific dates of the upcoming edition.
  • Where is the festival held? The Bansko Jazz Festival takes place in the scenic town of Bansko, located at the foot of the Pirin Mountains in southwestern Bulgaria. The performances are held at various venues throughout the town, including outdoor stages, squares, and cultural centers.
  • How do I purchase tickets for the festival? Tickets for the Bansko Jazz Festival can be purchased online through the festival’s official website. It is advisable to book your tickets in advance, as popular performances may sell out quickly. The festival offers different types of passes, such as day passes or multi-day passes, and often provides early bird discounts for early bookings.
  • Is there an age restriction for attending the festival? The Bansko Jazz Festival is open to all ages. Whether you’re a jazz enthusiast, a music lover, or simply looking for a unique cultural experience, the festival welcomes attendees of all ages to enjoy the performances.
  • Are there any additional events or activities besides the performances? In addition to the main performances, the Bansko Jazz Festival often includes workshops, masterclasses, and special events. These provide opportunities for attendees to engage with the artists, learn more about jazz, and immerse themselves in the music through educational and interactive experiences.
  • Are there food and drink options available during the festival? Yes, the festival offers various food and drink options. Nearby restaurants, cafes, and food stalls provide a range of culinary choices, allowing you to grab a quick meal or indulge in local specialties while enjoying the festival. It is also permitted to bring your own food and drinks to the festival venues.
  • Is it possible to meet the artists or get autographs? While there is no guarantee of meeting the artists or obtaining autographs, there may be opportunities to interact with them during workshops, masterclasses, or special events. Additionally, some artists may have designated meet-and-greet sessions or signings. It is always best to check the festival’s program guide for any such opportunities.
  • Is photography and videography allowed at the festival? Generally, photography and videography for personal use are allowed at the festival. However, professional camera equipment and commercial use of photos or videos may require prior permission from the festival organizers. It is always recommended to be respectful of the artists and other attendees while capturing your festival experience.

If you have any specific questions or require further information about the Bansko Jazz Festival, it is recommended to visit the festival’s official website or contact the festival organizers directly.



The Bansko Jazz Festival is an extraordinary event that brings together the best of jazz music in the stunning setting of Bansko, Bulgaria. With its rich history, diverse line-up, and vibrant atmosphere, the festival offers a truly unforgettable experience for jazz enthusiasts and music lovers from around the world.


Throughout the years, the festival has evolved from a small gathering to a renowned international event, attracting both legendary jazz musicians and emerging talents. The performances span a wide spectrum of jazz styles, showcasing the beauty and versatility of this genre.


The festival’s program schedule is carefully curated to provide a seamless and captivating musical journey. From the opening ceremony to the outdoor stages and intimate venues, every moment at the Bansko Jazz Festival is filled with enchanting melodies, mesmerizing rhythms, and moments of improvisational brilliance.


Moreover, the festival not only celebrates the artistry of jazz but also fosters a sense of community among attendees. The friendly and welcoming atmosphere creates a space where music lovers from different backgrounds can come together, embrace the magic of jazz, and forge new connections.


Whether you’re a long-time jazz aficionado or a newcomer to the genre, attending the Bansko Jazz Festival is an opportunity to immerse yourself in a world of musical creativity and inspiration. It’s a chance to discover new artists, appreciate the talents of renowned musicians, and create lasting memories in the picturesque setting of Bansko.


So mark your calendar, plan your visit, and get ready to embark on a musical journey like no other at the Bansko Jazz Festival. Experience the power and beauty of jazz, embrace the warm hospitality of the festival, and witness firsthand why this event has become a highlight on the international jazz scene.