Beaches International Jazz Festival to go virtual for July of 2020

Musicians perform on Queen Street East in the Beach during last July's Beaches International Jazz Festival's Streetfest celebration. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year's jazz festival will now be celebrated virtually.

With the decision by the City of Toronto to cancel permits for large gatherings this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Beaches International Jazz Festival has announced that it will be going virtual for 2020.

“The free 32nd Annual Virtual Beaches International Jazz Festival will bring musicians and fans affected by the COVID-19 pandemic together for an innovative virtual live music experience to help sustain and connect the local/global music community during this trying and unprecedented time,” said festival organizers in a statement released on the morning of Wednesday, May 20,

“This year, for nine days only, July 17 to 26, the Beaches International Jazz Festival morphs into Canada’s only Online Jazz Festival in support of the Michael Garron Hospital front line workers,” said the release.

“The safety and well-being of our attendees, volunteers, staff and community remain our top priority and as such, we are choosing to do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

The City of Toronto announced on Friday, May 15, that events with more than 25,000 people will be cancelled in Toronto until Aug. 31. That means this July’s Jazz Festival, which was going to be celebrating its 32nd year, and the Taste of the Danforth in August will not be taking place.

In past years, the Beaches International Jazz Festival has been a month-long celebration of music in East Toronto with events slated for Woodbine Park, Queen Street East in the Beach, Leslieville and Riverside in July.

The Streetfest, which would have taken place from July 23 to 25 this year, always draws huge crowds to Queen Street East in the Beach for outdoor musical performances and celebrations.

“For 31 uninterrupted years, Toronto’s most beloved musical event of the summer, the Beaches International Jazz Festival has brought life, music and culture into the Beach community,” said the organizers in their release today.

“The festival welcomes residents, businesses and tourists from all over the world to join together to appreciate and support the hundreds of high calibre artists performing at the festival year after year.”

The virtual festival will obviously not be the same as live music being performed in front of large crowds, but the spirt of the festival will remain the same. “While this year may look a little different, the festival’s values and goals remain the same: to showcase world-class talent, barrier free, while also supporting and featuring emerging and well-known local and international artists.”

Along with the performances, a big part of the Beaches International Jazz Festival in past years has been the workshops it holds for musicians and music fans during July. Those will continue to happen this year, but they will now be online.

“The festival will also facilitate free virtual workshops, masterclasses and interactive Listen and Learn sessions with artists and industry leaders,” said the May 20 press release. “The Virtual Festival will be streamed online on our website, YouTube and Facebook Live.  The performances will be streamed live, as well as archived on all platforms once the Virtual Festival is finished.”

These are tough times for musicians and live music fans, and the festival is hoping its virtual events can help ease some of those challenges.

“During these uncertain times, the Beaches International Jazz Festival acknowledges the undue hardship faced by musicians. The festival’s decision to go virtual supports our performers, while also providing them with the opportunity to reach larger audiences.

In times like these, where we may feel more alone than ever, our hope is to bring a little bit of life, fun and happiness to homes throughout the GTA and beyond. While we may not be celebrating and enjoying the festival together physically, we will still be brought together by the power of music.”

For further more information and schedules for the virtual events as they become available this July, please visit


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