Celebrating 30 Years of Jazz Excellence: The Istanbul Jazz Festival

For nearly three decades, the Istanbul Jazz Festival has been a highlight of the city’s cultural calendar, bringing together jazz enthusiasts worldwide. Since 1994, the festival has showcased a diverse lineup of local and international artists from various jazz sub-genres. It is one of the region’s most prestigious jazz festivals and is held annually over several days in July.

Organized by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV), the festival promotes cultural diversity and understanding through the arts. In addition, to live jazz performances, the festival also includes workshops, masterclasses, and talks, providing a unique opportunity for aspiring musicians and jazz fans to learn from established artists and interact with them.

Over the years, the Istanbul Jazz Festival has hosted some of jazz’s biggest names, such as Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, and Sonny Rollins. The festival has also featured performances by renowned musicians, including Okay Temiz and Aydin Esen, and local Turkish jazz talent. It has become a beloved institution in the global jazz community thanks to its commitment to showcasing the best of jazz worldwide.

The festival’s 30th anniversary celebration promises to be a memorable one, with an exciting lineup of performers and events. Here are some highlights of what to expect:

1. Festival Award Night

Date: 7 July 2023
Venue: Austrian Consulate Austrian Culture Forum

On July 7th 2023, the festival will kick off with a Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony honoring legendary jazz drummer Can Kozlu, also one of the founders of the Jazz Performance Department at Bilgi University.

Kozlu will also perform, followed by the Austrian psychedelic jam band Takeshi’s Cashew, who will take the stage with their unique blend of Anatolian funk, progressive rock, Krautrock, Afrobeat, and Latin rhythms.

2. Kovacs // Riff Cohen & Okay Temiz “The Ritual” // Mert Demir // Takeshi’s Cashew

Date: 8 July 2023
Venue: Parkorman

Riff Cohen

Photo Credit: @RiffCohen

On July 8th 2023, Sharon Kovacs, the Dutch singer known for her deep voice and inspired by legends such as Etta James and Shirley Bassey, will perform at Parkorman. Before her performance, the festival audience will witness a performance by Okay Temiz, a pioneer in percussion and composer Riff Cohen.

The exciting concert will also feature Mert Demir, the songwriter and composer known for his collaboration with Mabel Matiz, and Takeshi’s Cashew.

Must-Listen Mert Demir Songs: Pusulam, Rüzgar, Antidepresan and Geberebilirim

Must-Listen Kovacs Songs: The Devil You Know, My Love, Child of Sin
Recommendation: Mama&Papa, Cheap Smell

Must-Listen Riff Cohen Songs: A Paris, J’aime and Marrakech

3. Morcheeba // Alfa Mist // Ekin Beril // Mammal Hands

Date: 9 July 2023
Venue: Parkorman


Photo Credit: @Morcheeba

On July 9th 2023, the festival will feature a fresh summer evening of trip-hop, jazz, and alternative sounds at Parkorman. The lineup will include Ekin Beril, Mammal Hands, Alfa Mist, and Morcheeba, the British trip-hop group with a foundation in low-tempo trip-hop and rock.

The performers’ unique blend of subgenres will keep the audience on their toes. This is the perfect opportunity to witness the talents of the new generation of virtuosos who transform innovative ideas into musical notes.

Must-Listen Morcheeba Songs: Blood Like Lemonade, The Sea and Trigger Hippie

Must-Listen Ekin Beril Songs: Ben Nasıl Büyük Adam Olucam, Körkütük and Zaman

Must-Listen Alfa Mist Songs: Brian, Keep On, Blaze and What If

Must-Listen Mammal Hands Songs: Kandaiki, Boreal Forest, Being Here and Nightingale

4. Jazz in the Parks Beylikdüzü

Date: 9 July 2023
Venue: Beylikdüzü Valley of Life

beylikduzu park jazz

Are you ready to enjoy the summer vibes with some fantastic live music? Jazz in the Parks is returning to Istanbul with two amazing concerts, bringing the best of jazz to some of the city’s largest green spaces.

On July 9th, the Beylikdüzü Valley of Life will be transformed into a vibrant musical hub as Jazz in the Parks hosts a night of entertainment, featuring Takeshi’s Cashew, a band known for their unique fusion of Anatolian funk, krautrock, and Afrobeat. Get ready to dance the night away! And before Takeshi’s Cashew takes to the stage, don’t miss the chance to discover the talented finalists of this year’s Young Jazz+ competition.

5. Jazz in the Parks Küçükçekmece

Date: 10 July 2023
Venue: Küçükçekmece Lakeside Amphitheatre

jazz in the parks kucukcekmece

On July 10th, the Küçükçekmece Lakeside Amphitheatre will become the epicenter of jazz as Jazz in the Parks delivers another unforgettable performance. Music lovers will be treated to the same amazing lineup, including Takeshi’s Cashew and the Young Jazz+ finalists.

With Jazz in the Parks, you can enjoy free concerts, surrounded by nature, while discovering new sounds and artists. Don’t miss the chance to be a part of these magical summer nights!

6. The Lumineers // Adamlar

Date: 12 July 2023
Venue: Parkorman


Bu gönderiyi Instagram’da gör


The Lumineers (@thelumineers)’in paylaştığı bir gönderi

The Lumineers are set to take the stage at Parkorman, spreading their folk wave across the world. The band started out in the small music clubs of Denver, Colorado, and has since gained worldwide recognition for their touching and subtle songs that tell stories behind smiling faces. The Lumineers draw inspiration from legendary artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, and Tom Petty.

Adamlar, one of Turkey’s favourite new-generation bands, will warm up the stage for The Lumineers with their blend of rock, humour, and irony. Join us at Parkorman to experience a night of incredible music!

Must-Listen Adamlar Songs: Benden Bana, Acının İlaci, Kadın, Sarılırım Birine

Must-Listen Lumineers Songs: Sleep On the Floor, Ophelia, Life in the City and Ho Hey

7. Night Out with +1

Date: 13 July 2023
Venue: Kadıköy

Night out +1 istanbul

Experience the vibrant streets of Kadıköy like never before at the Night Out with +1 event. This long-standing event of the Istanbul Jazz Festival invites you to stroll the streets, hopping from one performance to another. Enjoy performances by several bands at Moda Stage Theatre, Dorock XL, Kadıköy Cinema, and The Wall. The night’s lineup includes Another Bitches Brew, Evdeki Saat, Sababa 5, Taşra Üçlemesi Caz Projesi, and The Flabbies.

Join the most vibrant night of the festival and immerse yourself in the diverse and unique world of jazz.

8. Youn Sun Nah Quartet

Date: 14 July 2023
Venue: Robert College Konak Terrace

Youn Sun Nah Quartet

The Youn Sun Nah Quartet will perform jazz music on the terrace of Robert College, surrounded by lush greenery. With her precise vocals and talent in various music genres, the artist’s success has risen. Waking World, Youn Sun Nah’s 2022 album that tells stories of today’s people, has been met with high praise.

Join us on Konak Terrace at Robert College to hear this versatile musician interpret pop, rock, and jazz from a modern perspective. It will undoubtedly be an enchanting and exciting concert.

Must-Listen Youn Sun Nah Quartet Songs: Jockey Full of Bourbon, She Moves On and Momento Magico

9. The Jazz Boat

Date: 16 July 2023
Venue: Kabataş Pier

the jazz boat

Mark your calendars for a refreshing summer day filled with swing and entertainment, as The Jazz Boat takes to the waters of Istanbul’s Bosphorus on July 16th. Norwegian Swing’it, Flapper Swing, and Brassist will be on board to offer a unique musical experience, cruising from Kabataş Pier to Anadolu Kavağı. Embrace the dynamic swing and jazz melodies as you sail along the beautiful coastline and breathe in the salty air.

Doors open at 10:00 am, with the ferry setting sail at 11:00 am and returning to Kabataş at 3:30 pm. Don’t forget to arrive early to avoid crowds and enjoy the delicious food and drinks available on board.
This event has no age limit, and there are restaurants in Anadolu Kavağı where you can have lunch. Please note that ticket prices do not include food and drinks on the ferry or lunch, and the consumption of alcohol and smoking is prohibited in both indoor and outdoor areas of the ferry.

10. Jazz in the Parks Şişli

Date: 16 July 2023
Venue: Şişli Habitat Parkı

Experience the joy of music in the heart of nature with Jazz in the Parks, as the festival brings free concerts to the people of Istanbul in the city’s largest green spaces. Join us at Şişli Habitat Park, Beylikdüzü Valley of Life, and Küçükçekmece Lakeside Amphitheatre to enjoy the beautiful sounds of jazz, including the Young Jazz+ finalists.

11. Fatoumata Diawara

Date: 17 July 2023
Venue: The Marmara Esma Sultan Mansion

Fatoumata Diawara

Experience the joy of music in the heart of nature with Jazz in the Parks, as the festival brings free concerts to the people of Istanbul in the city’s largest green spaces. Join us at Şişli Habitat Park, Beylikdüzü Valley of Life, and Küçükçekmece Lakeside Amphitheatre to enjoy the beautiful sounds of jazz, including the Young Jazz+ finalists.

Must-Listen Fatoumata Diawara Songs: Douha, Manitoumani, Sowa and Desole

12. Lizz Wright // Elif Sanchez

Date: 18 July 2023
Venue: Sultan Park Swissotel The Bosphorus

Elif Sanchez

On July 17th, The Marmara Esma Sultan Mansion invites you to explore the vibrant and colorful world of Fatoumata Diawara, one of Africa’s most prominent musicians. Her powerful voice and progressive and timeless musical vision bring a new dimension to Afro-pop, addressing social issues with positive and loving ideas. Singing in Bambara, the national language of Mali, Diawara has collaborated with legends like Herbie Hancock, Bobby Womack, Flea, and David Crosby, and has been part of Damon Albarn’s Africa Express project.

The venue offers one of the most breathtaking views in Istanbul, making it the perfect place to immerse yourself in her captivating artistic approach to music.

Must-Listen Elif Sanchez Songs: Vuelve, Turkish Lullaby, Mi Voz and Para Recordarte

Must-Listen Lizz Wright Songs: Hit the Ground, I’m Confessin’ and Stars fell on Alabama


Istanbul Jazz Festival is a world-class event that celebrates the beauty and diversity of jazz music, while reflecting the city’s unique cultural identity. For 30 years, the festival has been a platform for local and international artists to showcase their talent and connect with audiences from all over the world. From traditional jazz to fusion, blues, and world music, the festival offers a vibrant mix of styles and genres that cater to all tastes and preferences.

Beyond the music, the festival also offers a space for cultural exchange and dialogue, bringing together people from different backgrounds and fostering mutual understanding and respect. With its dynamic programming, breathtaking venues, and unforgettable performances, the Istanbul Jazz Festival is a highlight of the city’s cultural calendar and a must-attend event for anyone interested in music, art, and culture. For more information about tickets and schedule, make sure to check IKSV’s official website! Also, if you want to discover more festivals in Istanbul, you can check out our blog on Festivals in Istanbul 2023!

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Simge Sor

I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list.
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