Jazzuary is an unofficial name which unites three jazz festivals that take place during the second half of the month—the Brussels Jazz Festival, the River Jazz Festival, and Djangofolllies. World-class musicians come to the city to delight the audience. They play in bars and clubs around the city, in Les Riches-Claires and in Flagey—all significant cultural venues in Brussels. The festival lineups do not overlap as they all focus on a certain type of jazz. Depending on your preferences, you may choose to listen to jazz standards, ethno jazz, free jazz, or jazz swing.
The Brussels Jazz Festival lasts for ten days in mid-January and mainly introduces famous international musicians who play classic jazz. Even though the festival is relatively young (it started in 2015), it has the potential to become one of the key events shaping the international jazz landscape.
The River Jazz Festival is as old as the Brussels Jazz Festival, but what makes it different is the lineup. For over two weeks in the second half of January, three concert halls—Jazz Station, Marni, and Senghor—host musicians that play free and experimental jazz. All venues are located on the old Maelbeek riverbed. This is where the name of the festival comes from. Aside from the concerts, the program also includes movie screenings, exhibitions, conferences, and a special program for children.
Djangofolllies is the most niche festival on the list as it is dedicated to Django Reinhardt, a Belgian-born jazz guitarist and composer, famous for inventing a so-called Gypsy jazz or jazz manouche. Every year, since 1995, concerts are held in honour of Django’s birthday. All musicians stick to the peculiar and distinct style of Django. During the second half of January, they play at Les Riches-Claires and Flagey in Brussels. But the festival is not limited to the capital—Djangofolllies takes all over Belgium.