Location: Castries, Vieux Fort, Sofriere and Rodney Bay regions: St. Lucia Island, Caribbean
Time to Visit: May, keep a watch on the official website for the exact dates
Admission Fee: Both free shows and ticketed shows are held. They vary from show to show and from one venue to another. Ticket prices are also made available by the authorities prior to the show in the official website.
How to Reach:
Almost all major international airlines operate flights from major North American airports to the Hewanorra Airport. It takes from 45 minutes to 1 hour to fly from there to the George Charles Airport in the capital city of Castries. You can avail chartered helicopter services offered by St. Lucia Helicopters that ply between the two airports in considerably less time. The Jazz festivals venues are mostly clustered around the two main cities of Castries and Vieux Fort, which can be easily accessed from these two airports. You can easily reach there by car, and most of the hotels provide inclusive tour packages anyway and provide transportation to the venues.
Nearest International Airport: Hewanorra Airport (international airport), George Charles Airport (regional airport).
When Tim Cunningham hit the first note on his mean saxophone at a rather nondescript venue in the little Carribean Island of St. Lucia about fifteen years back, attended by a few hundred at the most, little did he know that the event will grow into one of the biggest Jazz hotspots in a course of a mere decade. St. Lucia Jazz festival is now not only the biggest draw of this island nation but one of the biggest cultural events of the whole Caribbean. In the Jazz world, it may not have the history of a Newport or the heritage of a New Orleans, but is coming up strongly to contend with the best. Over the years, the Jazz Festival in St. Lucia has broadened its horizon to include performers who are outside the so-called traditional constriction of Jazz music. Blues, hip-hop, Calypso and RnB rub shoulders with modern Jazz to make this festival a hit for a wide range of audiences. (Yes, there is a little dash of pop too!) Almost all major Jazz, Blues, Calypso and R&B figures have featured prominently in the St. Lucia Jazz Festival: Herbie Hancock, Buddy Guy, McCoy Tyner, Taj Mahal, Wynton Marsalis and Wyclef Jean to mention a few.
The beginnings of the St. Lucia Jazz Festival were quite humble. Started by the city authorities to boost the tourism potential of this Caribbean islands in 1991, the three original venues did not attract more than a few thousand. In any case, most of them used the festival as a stopover during a regular tourist visit to the lovely beaches of St. Lucia. The persistence of the organizers to present the best of the performers, however, eventually paid off. Within a span of ten years, St. Lucia Jazz Festival moved from a position of virtual anonymity towards being one of the coolest musical festivals to be in. Its name is now indelibly imprinted on the Jazz calendar and the music itineraries across the world. Thousands of music lovers pour in from all parts of the Americas and the world to be a part of this festival. Extensive media coverage, advertisements and heavyweight sponsors make it an event that is at a class of its own.
It will be no overstatement to say that the success of the St. Lucia Jazz Festival in the Caribbean has surpassed the expectations of the organizers. Not only has it turned into one of the biggest attractions for music lovers from all over the world, it has also turned out to be an important source of revenue earnings for the inhabitants of this small Caribbean island. The organizers are committed towards making this one of the greatest spectacles of the world. It will only be fair to say that they are almost there, if not there already. The festival has also popularized Jazz among the local inhabitants and has also been a great platform for West Indian bands and musicians to showcase their talents. With its ever increasing rich, the festival has become a favorite endorsement opportunity for big corporate and business houses. Presently, it has some of the biggest international brands as its official sponsors, including Coca Cola.
If you are a music lover, a visit to the St. Lucia Jazz Festival is a must for you. If you are fond of tourism in a general way, and want to immerse yourself in festivals and events from all over the world, St. Lucia Jazz Festival is still the best place for you to be. Great food, great community interaction, cosmopolitan environment and great music to go along with it, make the Jazz Festival in St. Lucia a great travel destination for you, to speak nothing of the wonderful beaches.
If your are serious on visiting the St. Lucia Jazz Festival or want to know more about St. Lucia Jazz, the best idea to stay abreast of various events related to information and festival news is to sign up for the event’s official newsletter, which is available on the Internet. The subscription will allow you to know about the future fixtures, featured artists, prospective venues and also help you in ticket booking. You can sign up for the newsletter at the official site of the St. Lucia Jazz Festival.
St. Lucia Jazz Festival Venues
St. Lucia Jazz Festival originally started with only four venues. However, given the ever-rising popularity of the Jazz festival, the number of venues have increased too. Some of the venues of the festival are the Pigeon Point National Reserve and Derek Walcott Square in the Central Castries. Other venues include Fond D’or Estate, the Great House, Rudy John Beach Park, Vieux Fort Square, Soufriere Waterfront, Ka Place Carenage, Royal ST. Lucian Hotel, Rodney Bay Marina and Gaiety. The Rodney Bay area is preferred by most tourists who arrive in the island for the express purpose of being a part of the Jazz festival. The reasons are simple: its proximity to the major Jazz performance venues and its active nightlife and community life.
St. Lucia Jazz Festival Accommodation
A number of St. Lucia hotels provide special accommodation all-inclusive packages during the Jazz Festival weekend. It includes access to all the usual hotel activities as well as visits to the various Jazz venues in the Pigeon Islands. The accommodation facilities in St. Lucia are quite various and include boutique hotels, sports hotels, active hotels and specialty hotels. The hotels in St. Lucia are generally distributed over four major areas, each with its unique set of accommodations and elements of interest. For an active lifestyle and a great nightlife, find an accommodation in the Rodney Bay village. This area has the largest concentration of hotels and resorts in St. Lucia. Some of the most popular hotels of this region are Harmony Suites, Bay Gardens Hotel, Tuxedo Villas, Coco Kreole, Caribbean Jewel Resort, Habitat Terrace and Front Springs Villa.
For a great Caribbean sailing experience, enjoy yachting and want to make it an integral part of your musical sojourn, find out an accommodation at Marigot Bay. The attractions of Soufriere are again quite different. The pristine rainforest retreats and the plantation hotels are the biggest attractions of this region. Castries, the capital of St. Lucia, is best for business travelers. You can also access the popular Jazz venues from this area. The Ginger Lily Hotel are Sea Grape Apartments are extremely popular hotels that are located in the Castries region. Other popular hotels of St. Lucia are Windjammer Landing Resort, Ocean View Villa and East Winds Inn.
You can choose to spend your time in St. Lucia at one of the major resorts, rather than a hotel. The resorts in St. Lucia are located amidst picturesque natural settings and present a wealth of facilities. The Ladera Resort, Almond Morgan Bay Beach Resort and the Almond Smuggler Cove Resort are some of the popular resorts in St. Lucia.
Watch some of the immortal performances from the recent years at St. Lucia Jazz festival, and also get a general feel of the event by clicking on the links below:
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=9fZMdbpqiQk: For a wonderful overview of the St. Lucia Jazz Festival 2008 from the Pigeon Islands, watch this video! It’s party time, folks. You will also get to see some of the visitor’s comments.
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=jSdTKeRsIbw: To find out how the setting of St. Lucia and the music gel together as a harmonious whole, watch this amazing recital by Smooth Jazz exponent Najee from the St. Lucia Jazz Festival. You will find reason enough to visit St. Lucia Jazz Festival.
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=2X1P6HLsfqY: Herbie Hancock this time, with his superb Quartet! These cats are on a roll! St. Lucia somehow tends to bring out the best from an artist. Check this out!
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_whLGiUuV0: All sea, all sun, all surf and music — St. Lucia during festival time is Caribbean at its essential best. Find out why!