For 32 years our French-speaking neighbors to the north have presented the biggest and friendliest jazz festival in the world — just ask the Guinness Book of Records.

With hundreds of free concerts on 10 outdoor stages and 12 indoor venues around the ever-expanding Place des Arts, this magical 10-day festival swings. The dates this year are June 25 to July 4.

This summer’s lineup of virtuoso talent includes Diana Krall, Chick Corea, Dave Holland, Brad Mehldau, Josh Redman, Tony Bennett, Marianne Faithfull, Sade, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Madeleine Peyroux, Nikki Yanofsky, Paco de Lucia, Peter Frampton, k.d. lang and Bob Walsh. 

The jazzy downtown revelry will also include festival regulars B.B. King, Tony Bennett and Dave Brubeck.

It is best to get accommodations close to or on-site for optimum festival vibe. That makes it easier to make the late-night scene at the Hyatt bar and schmooze the greats.

Free outdoor concerts draw dense crowds but the festival does a great job of keeping everyone safe. We book early evening concerts in small, ticketed indoor venues after a day of crowds and sun.

Our favorite is the Gesåntre for fabulous acoustics and cozy atmosphere. Last year Dave Holland knocked our socks off.

Larger ticketed indoor venues like the Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier or Theatre Maisonneuve are formal and a bit pricey — but when you’re listening to a Marsalis or a Brubeck, it’s worth it. Last year temperatures soared into the 90s and the heat was on everyone’s mind. Shaded on-site refreshment tents and stands keep revelers hydrated, with proceeds going to the festival.

For information on the ever-evolving all-star lineup, visit — a little preparation goes a long way. For tech-savvy jazz fans, the Jazz Fest App is a great tool for instant information.

Pack your “Mingus Moves” T-shirt and let the good times roll!

Elizabeth Margolis-Pineo is a freelance writer in Portland and who has attended the Montreal Jazz Festival seven times.