Belgrade Jazz Festival

The Belgrade Jazz Festival was set up in 1971 as the famous Newport Jazz Festival's abridged version, managed by the Belgrade Youth Centre. The first edition included artists like Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Ornette Coleman and Miles Davis, instantly placing Belgrade on the jazz map of Europe. The Festival got its current name in 1974, when the Belgrade Youth Centre completely took over the production and Aleksandar Živković selection. The Festival has been held continuously for two decades, presenting numerous stars from the USA, the essential local jazzmen, and a smaller number of European artists. In 1991, due to the civil war in Yugoslavia, the Festival was not held, and the unplanned break lasted fifteen years.

It was revived in 2005, and two years later, the City of Belgrade included BJF on the list of events of special cultural interest. In the European framework, it belongs to medium-sized jazz festivals, usually lasting five days, with four or five performances per night, without overlapping. Most programs are held in the Belgrade Youth Centre, in the Velika sala and sala Amerikana. Local acts usually comprise about a fifth of the program, the American artists take up roughly the same portion, while the rest are guests from the "rest of the world", predominantly from European soil. This "balance of power" led the Festival to become a member of the Europe Jazz Network in 2014 as the first (and still the only) Serbian event in this network.

The program is stylistically diverse, from tradition to avant-garde, with numerous genre blends characteristic of the current moment in jazz. The emphasis is on younger and middle-generation artists, reflecting one of the youngest audiences in the world. Attendance exceeds 80% of the hall's capacity, and several program evenings are sold out at each edition. Thanks to the founder and main patron of the event, the City of Belgrade, as well as the Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia, and donations from numerous diplomatic missions and foreign cultural centers, ticket prices are extremely popular, among the most affordable in Europe for programs of the highest artistic value.

Today, the Belgrade Jazz Festival strives to be bold, intriguing, fresh and uncompromising in terms of programming, discovering the best in contemporary jazz from all over the world. This feature made it desirable for the international jazz public and expert media, who follow the event regularly – since 2005, dozens of experts from various parts of the world, from the USA to Japan, from Great Britain to Italy, have covered the Festival. Along with the goal to be a benchmark in excellent world jazz presentations, the Festival aims to provide the best launchpad for talented Serbian artists, commission original productions and organize showcases, encouraging them to engage in the creative arts and connecting them with the world.