The Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal

Festival international de Jazz de Montréal: Making the city shine for 40 years

Among the cultural events that make Montréal’s summer unique—plays, dance performances, concerts and visual projections—one in particular remains a timeless staple of our summer landscape: the Festival international de jazz de Montréal (FIJM).

To mark the Festival's 40th anniversary, the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal wishes to highlight the contribution of this city’s cultural trailblazer.

Here are some of the features that distinguish this beloved event.

Culture: a key player in the city’s vitality

Montréal has an enviable reputation as a creative city thanks to the abundance and variety of its cultural events.

The cultural sector’s economic contribution to Montréal’s vibrancy and success is well established. Quite naturally, the business community has come together over the last few years to ensure the growth of the cultural sector and contribute to keeping Quebec’s creative heart beating. With the implementation of the Ville de Montréal’s cultural development policy, the redesign of the Quartier des spectacles, and major investments in infrastructure and support for cultural organizations, downtown Montréal is celebrating a golden age. It is more lively and vibrant today than ever before.

Plus, our downtown core is said to contain “the largest concentration and greatest diversity of cultural events in North America in a square kilometre.”

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The FIJM: a giant that paved the way for Montréal, cultural metropolis

In 1979, Alain Simard, co-founder of the Festival international de jazz de Montréal with André Ménard, thought of organizing an urban event that would combine free outdoor programming and a paid indoor component. At the time, this idea seemed far-fetched.

Forty years later, the concept has not only proven its worth, but has also helped put the city on the map. In fact, the Festival has been recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the largest jazz festival in the world for 15 years now. Its business model has set the stage for a large number of outdoor events. It also laid the groundwork for the future Quartier des spectacles, announced in 2007.

Celebrating 40 years of success with a revamped format

Mature organizations almost always face a particular challenge: to avoid resting on their laurels and be able to reinvent themselves. For the event organizers, the continued success and solid reputation of the FIJM are definitely not an obstacle. They are, instead, an inspiration, a catalyst that encourages them to step outside their comfort zone and keep innovating.

As a result, the 2019 edition of the Festival saw the birth of the very first FIJM satellite site. The innovative new development plan provides for the presentation of shows on the Festival's fringes over the next five years. These shows are held in conjunction with the main event, which remains rooted in the Quartier des spectacles.

This year, the Verdun Borough hosted the very first Festival “satellite.” Wellington Street was alive with the sound of jazz rhythms and completely free programming for about 10 days. By 2024, four other Montréal neighbourhoods will participate.

The Festival has perfectly fulfilled its role as Montréal’s ambassador over the last four decades. Beyond its influence on the international scene, its mission is also to make art, music and culture accessible. This way, as many Montrealers as possible share in the FIJM’s magic and exhilaration.


DESCHÊNES, Claude. Tous pour un : Quartier des spectacles Montréal, Montréal, Les Éditions La Presse, 2018.
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