Jazz lovers are in luck! This year, once again, the capital of the Gipuzkoa region welcomes Europe’s most iconic jazz festival. We are talking, of course, about Jazzaldia in San Sebastián, which in 2023 is celebrating its 57th edition. Five full days of music, talent, art and a fantastic atmosphere. Don’t miss out!

The origins of the San Sebastián Jazz Festival

Also known as the San Sebastián Jazz Festival, the origins of Jazzaldia go back to 1966. This makes it not only one of the oldest jazz festivals in Spain, but in Europe. Almost 60 years of history marked by music, culture, quality, fun and freedom.

It’s important to highlight that the San Sebastián Jazz Festival was born at a difficult time, both in national and international terms: in the shadow of Francoism and the Cold War. As a consequence, this came to serve as a meeting point and celebration for people from all over the world seeking peace and a little distraction.

We must thank Imanol Olaizola, founder of the Euskadi Symphony Orchestra (OSE) for this incredible and incredibly successful international event. The idea came to him during his stay in Paris in 1964, during which he attended a concert that would change his life forever: Count Basie and his Big Band. On seeing the public’s enthusiasm for this type of music, it occurred to Imanol that he could bring this style to San Sebastián and create a similar event that would bring many people together.

The aim of Jazzaldia was clear. On the one hand, to spread the musical culture of jazz and, on the other, to promote cultural tourism in San Sebastián. Since then, the Donostia Jazz Festival has attracted some of the world’s most famous jazz musicians, becoming one of the Spanish summer’s unmissable cultural events.

Just some of the many iconic figures that have played the festival include Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Ray Charles, B.B. King, Liza Minnelli, Gloria Gaynor and Patti Smith.

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Where and when is Jazzaldia held

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As a rule, Jazzaldia Festival takes place annually in the third week of July. More specifically, in 2023 the dates to put in the diary are from the 21st to the 25th of July. Five full days of music and activities to party and make the most of beautiful San Sebastián.

Although Plaza de la Trinidad, the Kursaal Auditorium, the Museum of San Telmo and Victoria Eugenia Theatre are the epicentres of Jazzaldia Donostia, there’s no shortage of parallel concerts and events taking place at other points in the city. That’s why it’s important to take a good look at Jazzaldia’s programme for this year. 

Jazzaldia’s programme and line-up

Want to know what’s on offer at Jazzaldia Festival 2023? The festival’s organisers always strive to make improvements on the previous year’s edition, and this year is no different. The line-up for Jazzaldia includes national and international stars, promising a whole host of spectacular shows. Take note!

Museum of San Telmo

  • 21st of July: Yosuke Yamashita: Quiet Memories
  • 22nd of July: Yosuke Yamashita: Classical Momentum
  • 23rd of July: Eri Yamamoto
  • 24th of July: Kento Tsubosaka
  • 25th of July: Hakuei Kim

Kursaal Auditorium

  • 21st of July: Kenny Barron with strings (ego)
  • 22nd of July: Norah Jones
  • 23rd of July: Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals
  • 24th of July: Pat Metheny: Side Eye
  • 25th of July: Rocío Márquez & Bronquio

Plaza de la Trinidad

  • 22nd of July: Julián Lage and Bill Frisell
  • 23rd of July: Abdullah Ibrahim and Nubya García
  • 24th of July: Enrico Rava and David Helbock’s Austrian Syndicate
  • 25th of July: Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Joss Stone

Vitoria Eugenia Theatre

  • 22nd of July: Lucía Rey Trío + Move
  • 23rd of July: Carles Margarit Quinteto + NGBM
  • 24th of July: Alto for two + Niño Josele
  • 25th of July: Bandolero Quarteto + Gonzalo del Val

Keler Gunea

  • 21st of July: Village People and Fred Wesley & The New JBS
  • 22nd of July: Blue Lab Beats and Viva Suecia
  • 23rd of July: Arde Bogotá and Tiken Jah Fakoly
  • 24th of July: Ezra Collective and Zetak
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Where to stay during the San Sebastián Jazz Festival

Jazzaldia in San Sebastián is a festival worth experiencing first-hand. Whether you’re a jazz aficionado or not, the bands, soloists and their shows are sure to leave you speechless as they light up the city. At Basque Stays we makes things easy so you can relax and enjoy a fantastic stay in the city.

If you’re thinking of attending this world-class festival, one thing you should organise well in advance is accommodation. Summer in the city and with important events such as this attract visitors from around the globe. At Basque Stays we recommend booking one of our fantastic apartments: Bengoetxea, Idiakez or Marrubi. You’ll love them!