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  • Writer's pictureChloé Braithwaite

The Nice Jazz Festival is back for soothing summertime croons

July is here, which can only mean one thing: the Nice Jazz Festival has arrived! This iconic event is one of the oldest and most important festivals of the city’s history.

The Nice Jazz Festival is celebrating its 68th edition this year, running from 15 to 19 July. Over 30 groups are performing on two stages, including Lady Blackbird, Melody Gardot, H.E.R., Curtis Harding, Cima Funk, Youn Sun Nah Quartet, and Iggy Pop.

The festival spans the Théàtre de Verdure and Place Masséna, starting each music-filled evening at 7:30. Tickets are available online.

The 1st jazz festival in the world

Louis Armstrong, 1953
Louis Armstrong in 1953

Jazz music has long been a part of Nice’s musical culture, so it may come as no surprise that the Nice Jazz Festival is among the most celebrated jazz events in the world. It has even been described by one guidebook as “the biggest, flashiest, and most prestigious jazz festival in Europe.”

That’s because the Nice Jazz Festival played a significant role in the history of jazz music—it was the world’s first international jazz festival, held in 1948. Inspired by the Belle Époque, the very first iteration saw the world’s most celebrated jazz artists in attendance, with Louis Armstrong headlining.

It was, in fact, a performance that Armstrong attended during the first-ever Nice Jazz Festival (then called Le Grand Parade du Jazz) that inspired one of his most famous tunes, C’est Si Bon, after he heard it performed by Suzy Delair on the evening of the 28th of February at the Negresco. Armstrong reportedly loved it so much that he began working on an English version almost immediately, releasing it to worldwide fanfare in 1950.

Since then, the event has attracted international talent from all over the world, including the likes of Carlos Santana, Mary J. Blige, George Benson, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, the Gipsy Kings, and, in 2021, the Black Eyed Peas. About 300,000 people are expected to attend the event over the five days, making it one of the most visited jazz events in the world.

How to attend the Nice Jazz Festival

With hundreds of thousands of people expected to attend, the best way to visit the Nice Jazz Festival is via public transport. Parking is limited (and paid), but the sleek, new tram stops at Jean-Medecin for Line 2 and Place Masséna for Line 1 is à deux pas to the festival grounds. If you’re arriving by train to Nice, the most convenient station is Nice Ville.

Doors open at 6:30 pm, there are several beverage tents, food trucks and local purveyors for filling your belly while not missing a beat.

For the full programme, visit the official website:




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