Jamaica Jazz FestivalImage courtesy of Ochos Rios Jazz Festival

At the heart of all traditional Jamaican reggae is the influence of another world-shaking musical form: jazz.

Specifically, American jazz as practiced by New Orleans jazz heroes like Fats Domino and Allen Toussaint. Without jazz musicians like these, it’s unlikely that reggae as we know it would exist.

Every year in Ochos Rios, the jazz tradition is honored in a way only Jamaica can honor it: with a multi-day music festival extravaganza. Eight days, to be exact.

As you might have figured out, ours is the land of vibrant festivals, carnivals and bacchanals that cannot be contained in a single day.

The very first Ochos Rios Jazz Festival, which occurred 25 years ago, tried to fit itself into one day. In fact, it billed itself as the Ochos Rios “Mini” Jazz Festival, to reflect its small footprint compared to other Jamaican events.

But within just a few years, the one-day festival in Ochos Rios expanded to eight days of events in dozens of locations across the island. Over 30 annual events share the magic of jazz—from the opening day Jazz Brunch to the closing performance, usually scheduled to coincide with Father’s Day.

In between these bookend events are many family-friendly happenings, from youth programs to photo exhibits to free concerts by Jamaican jazz artists and more. Be sure to bring the whole family! In fact, the Festival’s founder, Jamaican jazz musician Sonny Bradshaw, created the event to be family friendly, particularly for visitors to the island.

To this day, although Sonny Bradshaw passed away in 2009, families and tourists are still at the core of the Festival’s audience.

The dates for the 2015 Ochos Rios Jazz Festival are still TBA—likely the event will occur sometime in June, which is Jazz Month in Jamaica—but we’ll update here as soon as we learn them.

If you’re visiting Jamaica in June, be sure to put this wonderful event on your calendar! For more information about happenings in Jamaica, or to book your stay at one of Ochos Rios’ most deluxe ocean-view accommodations (a vacation rental mansion that sleeps up to 16 guests), contact us at Jamaica Ocean View Villa!