Festival Guide: Halifax Jazz Festival 2016

Where: Halifax, N.S.
When: July 12-17

What it is

This week, the 30th edition of Halifax Jazz Festival takes place in downtown Halifax. For the second year in a row, the festival is a robust five-day event centred around a main stage down on the waterfront. While the festival has jazz in the name, and lots of jazz sub-genres are covered throughout the week, it’s a broad collection of performers.

It’s a big anniversary for the festival and it’ll start off about as good as it gets with a performance from Ms. Lauryn Hill on Tuesday. (If you’re reading this, it’s too late because the show sold out instantly.) Halifax favourites such as City and Colour and Metric headline the big stage along with Chic featuring Nile Rodgers, Thundercat and the Preservation Hall Jazz band.

Hanging out at the main stage every night is a safe bet for a good show, but it’s also worth checking out St. Matthew’s Church and the Company House. Starting at noon everyday, there’ll be free afternoon shows on the main stage for those looking for a chill way to enjoy a lunch break.


Ms. Lauryn Hill, City and Colour, Metric, Chic (feat. Nile Rodgers), Thundercat, Preservation Hall Jazz Band. For the full lineup, check out Jazz Festival website

Mix Pick

Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld

Festivals like Halifax Jazz Festival are important for creating spaces where artists can perform, physical spaces where the music makes sense with audiences who will enjoy and respect the music. The saxophone and violin duo of Colin Stetson & Sara Neufeld makes perfect sense in an old church. The two instrumentalists are veterans of the Canadian music scene, releasing solo albums and collaborating with some of the biggest names in music. Neufeld is a touring member of Arcade Fire and member of Bell Orchestre. Stetson has played or recorded with Tom Waits, TV on the Radio, Bon Iver, Animal Collective, LCD Soundsystem, Feist, Michael Feuerstack, Timber Timbre and others. The duo released the album Never Were the Way She Was las year, an album that made the 2015 Polaris Prize long list.

See Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld at St. Matthew’s Church on Saturday, July 16 at 7:30pm.

River Tiber

The young Toronto musician has his fingers in all the best rap and hip-hop pies out there. In 2016, he’s collaborated with Pusha T, Kaytranada and Jazz Cartier. Tommy Paxton-Beesley (aka River Tiber). He’s also contributed to tracks by Badbadnotgood and some guy named Drake. But River Tiber doesn’t just ride the coattails of others. His debut full-length Indigo won’t even be a month old on Saturday when he performs on the main stage at 8:30 pm.

Mix Tip

Since Halifax Jazz Festival is an institution in this city, existing for 30 years, a diverse group of people come out to the festival every year. Last year, the festival layout changed slightly. Gone is the big tent, replaced by a giant stage. There are bleachers for those who want to see but not be obstructed by people standing up by the front. There are also a plethora of tables and chairs for lounging. Everyone gets to listen to the same music and the shared space is what makes Halifax Jazz Festival a special event.

And one final tip: use the waterfront entrance. Lineups are always shorter for those of you who prefer to not hang out in lines.

Press photo of Metric by Alysse Gafkjen