Bansko Jazz Festival

The fabulous story of Bansko Jazz Festival

It all began in 1997, when the visionary idea of Dr. Emil Iliev for organizing a jazz festival in the small beautiful town of Bansko emerged in his mind. Being a ski resort, Bansko would hardly ever be imagined hosting a major event during the summer, however Bansko Jazz Festival proves the opposite.

However, in 1998, the enthusiasm and the strong desire of D-r Jazz, as they call him in Bansko, prevailed over the opinion of the sceptics, who were quick to predict the impossibility of such endeavour. The Bansko Jazz Festival became a fact.

A pocket full of starlight

Over the years, the stages of the jazz festival have welcomed great artists. Some of the Bulgarian stars that have performed in Bansko are: Milcho Leviev, Theodosii Spassov, Yildiz Ibrahimova, Antoni Donchev, Camellia Todorova, Mario Stantchev. Also wolrd renowned international jazz artists and band like Incognito, Mungo Jery Blues Band , Solomon Burke, Axel Zwingenberger and many other have been part of the magnificent history of the jazz fest.

Milcho Leviev performing at the XIII International Bansko Jazz Festival

Bansko Jazz festival at a glance

Every year, in the beginning of August, thousand of jazz fans flock in the foot of Pirin to attend this great summer event. The jazz fest is held for 9 days in a row (in 2012 to the event 1 day is added), during which the cosy town of Bansko is captivated by fascinating rythm. Every evening on the open-air stage at the main square N. Vaptsarov, jazz musicians from all over the world enchant the audience with their performances. The entrance is free and everyone can join the party at 7 p.m.

Bansko Jazz Festival 2012

Kekko Fornarelli performing at XV International Jazz Festival Bansko

There is a program of the Jazz festival available in English, where all the events are listed together with a detailed description of the participants on the stage. A small kiosk behind the main stage also sells T-shirts with the logo of the festival, as well as Cd’s of the performers.

Jazz +

Several everyday events are accompanying the program of the festival. Apart from the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful nature or embark on a culinary trip, Bansko visitors can attend additional jazz events after midnight or during the day.

Upon completion of the open-air stage performances, every night there are jazz after-parties in clubs around the square.  The stars from the main stage participate in jam sessions, often last until dawn, in the clubs of the hotels like Perun Lodge, Florimont Hotel, Kempinski Grand Arena, Banderitsa.

There is also an everyday afternoon, dedicated entirely to jazz. From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. all jazz lovers can head to LuckyBansko Aparthotel , to see a movie about jazz legends like Ella Fitzgerald, Louse Armstrong, Duke Ellington and more and to go through a short but exciting tour across the history of jazz. These jazz classes contain many intriguing details and are presented by the Bulgarian journalist and great music connoisseur Toma Sprostranov.

Useful starting points for attending the event:

Official site of Bansko Jazz Festival (EN version)
Map of the town in English
How to get there (Timetable of the buses from different Bulgarian towns to Bansko)
Accomodation: During the summer the choice between  low-budget stay and 5-star hotels is wide