The International Jazz Festival in Bansko is the oldest festival of its kind in Bulgaria. Its first edition was in 1998. Traditionally the event is conducted every year between 8 and 13 August. The large popularity which the festival gained among specialists and admirers around the world turned it into one of the most important cultural events on the Balkan Peninsula.
Traditionally, styles and groups presenting the diversity of various directions in the genre participate in the program. Unforgettable concerts by great names on the global jazz scene – the saxophonists Scott Hamilton, Candy Dulfer, Igor Butman, Charlez Papazov, Benny Golson, the guitarists Philip Catherine with his band, Steve Hackett with the Hungarian band Jabe and many others, have been conducted. The residents and guests of Bansko have had the chance to the hear the great voices of Solomon Burke, Freddy Cole, Clare Teal, Jamie Davis, Inga Lewandowski, and Kasha Rodovich, Denise Jannah, Kamelia Todorova, Vasil Petrov, Yaldaz Ibrahimova, Hilda Kazasian, Petar Salchev, and many, many others. Over the years, more than twenty big bands have participated in the festival program – the Bulgarian National Radio Big Band and the Big Band of Vili Kazasyan. The SHAPE International Big Band, a part of the official orchestra presenting NATO, was also among them.
Evening concerts gather thousands of people in the audience in front of the open stage on Nikola Vaptsarov square in the center of Bansko. Jazz sounds throughout the day for the entire festival week – from various chamber stages, situated in large complexes and restaurants. In 2011 the Jazz Festival in Bansko will give two more days to the audience. On
6 and 7 August the organizers have envisaged a number of pleasant surprises. The queen of the Bulgarian pop music, Lili Ivanova, will sing there. The folklore ensemble “Thracia” will present a panorama of Bulgarian traditional dances, and the band “Balkanski Kone” (the Balkan Horses) will present their new project. For the six festival evenings, Bansko will again turn into the jazz capital of the Balkan Peninsula.