Anyone who thinks that winter is no time for a music festival hasn’t been to Winter Jazzfest. Sure, festival-goers may not be stretched out on a blanket under the stars, but there are few experiences that warms winter-weary bones like ducking into a dark den of a jazz club for an electrifying live performance.
Winter Jazzfest is unlike any other music festival, but not because it’s in the dead of winter. Jazzfest is a spectacular gathering of nearly 70 world premier jazz musicians performing and celebrating for many nights across multiple venues, right here in our city where jazz had its golden age. Though the genre was born in New Orleans and spent some time developing in Chicago, jazz came into its own during Prohibition in New York City. Smokey speakeasies and jazz clubs were the ideal place to perform the exciting, rebellious brand of music, and musicians were drawn to the freewheeling atmosphere.
Of course, Greenwich Village has its own vibrant musical history, with legendary institutions like the Village Vanguard, the oldest continuously operating jazz club in the world. Artists like Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, and Sonny Rollins got their start there. Washington Square Hotel has seen its share of budding talent; Norah Jones was waiting tables at the restaurant when she booked the gig that would lead to her rise in fame.
North Square, our restaurant, celebrates the city’s jazz legacy with a weekly jazz brunch our restaurant, celebrates the city’s jazz legacy with a weekly jazz brunch every Sunday between 12:30 and 2:15 PM. The Village’s robust music scene continues to thrive thanks to the vibrant community of music and food venues.
It makes sense, then, that the world’s premier Jazz festival is set across the city. In a glowing write-up, the New Yorker wrote that if you catch “even a small percentage of the seventy or so performers taking the stage during this invaluable festival” you will “come away understanding just how fertile the contemporary jazz scene really is.” The New York Times said that at its best, the festival “shows you the interwoven, recombinant flow that has always given jazz its messy social coherence, even in today’s unboxable age.”
Sold yet? You can find tickets to individual shows here. If you’re having trouble choosing, go for the festival’s most famous event: the Marathon. There are two, one in both Brooklyn and Manhattan, but the Manhattan Marathon boasts the longest and most intense roster of performers. With over 100 sets presented in just two nights, January 10th and 11th, it’s more than any one person can possibly take in, but that’s what makes it so unique. A week later, on January 17th, the Brooklyn Marathon presents about 30 sets, making it a little more manageable. The sets are spread across multiple clubs in Brooklyn, but most are within walking distance of each other. Book a stay at the Washington Square Hotel where you can rest up between sets.