What would you say if someone told you that you can visit one of the beautiful mountain resort towns in Bulgaria and at the same time spend a week listening to amazing jazz music? Well, it is possible. Every year the biggest and most prominent jazz event in Bulgaria takes place in Bansko, in August. You can visit the Bansko Jazz Fest 2020 from August 8 to August 12. You can enjoy the wonderful jazz music of some of the best Bulgarian and international artists.

The beginning of the Bansko Jazz Fest

Saxophonist player playing jazz music during the International Jazz Festival Bansko 2020
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The magnificent world of jazz

Founded by Dr Emil Iliev in 1998, Bansko Jazz Fest is a wonderful jazz event and tradition. He had the idea to provide some quality entertainment for his patients. He treated them in a spa hotel in the beautiful town of Bansko where they learned about a healthy lifestyle. They had different treatments, relaxed and enjoyed the breathtaking view of Pirin Mountain. They recharged their body and soul and at the same time gaining knowledge about different aspects of the Bulgarian culture. The magical sounds of the jazz music of famous musicians were some of the founding points of this wonderful jazz initiative. Now called the International Jazz Festival in Bansko.

Dr Iliev’s idea was a huge success among his patients. He thought it would be wonderful to offer the same experience not only to them but to all people visiting Bansko. The authorities of the town were sceptical at first. After the success of the jazz event in 1998 and the positive feedback, everyone changed their opinions. Since then the Bansko Jazz Fest is a wonderful tradition and celebration of the magnificent world of jazz.

Bansko Jazz Festival 2020 – participants, workshops, sessions

2020 marks the 23rd edition of the Bansko Jazz Festival. Surely it will be one of the best to date with participants coming from all over. There are performers from Italy, Hungary, Serbia, Greece, France, the UK and the US and of course Bulgaria.

Some of the Bansko Jazz Festival 2019 most popular music artists were Maceo Parker, Tony Momrelle & Vanessa Haynes and many other live bands.

The Bansko Jazz Festival 2020 main stars are Amy Baker (UK), Nicoletta Fabbri (IT), R.E.D (Rio. Erik. Duo) (Indonesia), Sarah Lenka (FR), The Juke Joint Royals (AU), Uroš Perić & The Mambo Stars ( Slovenia / Serbia) and many others.

People raising their hands during the Bansko Jazz Festival 2020
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Bansko Jazz Festival

Also this year you can visit an Afro-Brazilian Percussion Workshop. The Brazilian percussionist Claudio Kron will give you a glimpse of the Afro-Brazilian sounds. He will lead you to an adventure similar to the performances in the festival in Rio de Janeiro.

Another amazing initiative to try is the Midnight Jazz Sessions starting every night from 11:30 PM to 2:30 AM. There you can listen to some of the best musicians from all over Bulgaria.

The place

Bansko is an amazing small town nestled into the majestic hug of Pirin Mountain. It is a popular winter and summer resort. There are many legends on how Bansko was founded. One of the most popular is that there was a Slavic tribe living in the Pirin and worshipping god Perun. At some point, this tribe founded a small village later to become a town now called Bansko.

Bansko beautiful panorama
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Bansko beautiful panorama

The town is an amazing travelling point located in one of the best parts in Bulgaria, the Southwestern region. In present days it is an international hot point for summer and winter tourism activities.

Map in Google maps from Sofia Airport to Bansko town
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Where is Bansko?

Crystal clear lakes and pine woods make it impossible to not fall in love with it. Stunning nature, magical atmosphere and rich cultural heritage make Bansko one of the best tourism centres in Bulgaria. Here you can get a glimpse of the rich Bulgarian crafts and folklore traditions. Delicious cuisine and the magical sounds of the picturesque Pirin Mountain will await you. The town is full of museums and galleries, churches, cultural monuments. In the Spa centres, you can spend a wonderful vacation along with family and friends.

The Jazz Festival Stage

The stage is in Bansko’s main town square, the N. Vaptazarov Square, an open, paved area, with grassy spots. Laidback restaurants and cafes surround it. Seating is on long rows of wooden benches. They also make an appearance at Bansko’s other festivals and open-air events over the summer. Otherwise, you can sit on the grass, stand at the pop-up food and drink areas.

People sitting near the Jazz Festival Stage in Bansko during the Jazz Festival
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The Jazz Festival Stage

Some attractions to visit:

1. The unique church in Dobarsko

Undoubtedly, the most interesting and extremely well-kept historical monument in the whole region is the church of St. St. Theodore Tyron & Theodore Stratilat. Built-in 1614, the church is situated in the nearby village of Dobarsko. It is unique for its abundance of original frescoes and icons. Some of them are interpreted as portraying Jesus Christ in a rocket.

2. The charming town of Razlog

Located between three mountains Rila, Pirin and the Rhodope Mountains, the town of Razlog offers stunning views. It is only a 6 km away from the famous winter resort Bansko. There is something really unique in Razlog – the Ancient Solar Calendar considered being used before the Chinese calendar. According to the historians, this solar calendar was used in 8 BC – the world’s oldest clock.

Ancient Solar Calendar, Razlog, Bulgaria
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Ancient Solar Calendar

3. Banya village

Banya village is a popular place for SPA tourism situated only 6 km from Bansko. It has numerous mineral springs and almost every hotel offers an outdoor pool with mineral water. The temperature varies in the range of 28º C to 58º C. Together with the beautiful nature around, these make Banya a wonderful destination for a holiday.

Swimming pool with mineral water in Banya village
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Swimming pool with mineral water, Banya village

4. The scenic Rhodope narrow-gauge railway

The Rhodope narrow-gauge line has become a star on the inclusion of the prestigious British edition of The Guardian. The little train will take you on a memorable journey, an adventure you will never forget. It takes the first place of the 10 best train routes in Europe compared to the British edition. The Rhodope narrow-gauge is the only such train in operation in Bulgaria and can be taken near Bansko.

The Rhodope Narrow Gauge passing through a women and a boy and two cows
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Rhodope Narrow-Gauge

Experience a romantic “time travel” back to the 20th century. It makes its way over magnificent vistas and provides you with unforgettable memories of nature. The route is passing through the tree most beautiful mountains – the Rhodope, Rila and Pirin. It’s going through the Avramovo station, which is the highest station in the Balkans situated at 1267 metres. Along the route, there are 35 tunnels, 11 stations and 10 stops. You can take the narrow-gauge train from Bansko railway station.

Narrow Gauge Train
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Rhodope narrow-gauge train

5. Dancing Bears Park Belitsa

Situated only on 33 km away from Bansko you may visit the Dancing Bears Park. It is an ongoing success story of the Dancing Bears Park. The region is spread with natural forests, valleys and water areas. A favourite spot for young and old, the park has a rich natural environment. Here the bears can turn back to their normal behaviour in nature after they have been tortured. They have been forced and trained to dance on hot iron plates and were separated from their mothers too early. More than 20 former dancing bears live in a 120.000 m² and trying to adapt in their new home.

Dancing Bears Park, Belitsa
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Dancing Bears Park, Belitsa

Tourists may visit the park at every hour from 1st April – 30th June at 12.00 – 18:00; July – August: 10:00 – 12:00 and 13:00 – 18:00; September- November: 12:00 – 16:00. From December until the end of March there are no tours.

For more information and bookings contact us!

Information and contact:

23rd International Jazz Festival Bansko

Bansko Jazz Festival 2020 dates: August 8-12

Bansko Open Scene

2770 Bansko, Bulgaria

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