Gigs all over the city at Wellington Jazz Festival

Get soulful and find your jazz groove this spring as incredible live music and good times once again fill our city’s streets and bars at this annual musical feast

Wellington Jazz Festival


18 – 22 Nov 2020


Various locations

Celebrate Wellington's favourite music venues and Aotearoa's talented performers and musicians at this springtime festival of live music. 

Wellington Jazz Festival was originally planned for early June but was cancelled because of the pandemic. Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on many of the Festival’s regular music venues, bars and eateries and for musicians and technicians across the region and country.

In response, the Festival has reshaped its planned programme, shifting it to spring, and is putting its resource and energy into ‘loving local’ - bringing audiences the finest homegrown jazz live in Wellington’s best music spots.

Audiences will have the opportunity to hear fresh new music by Aotearoa jazz composers with the Festival commissioning four Kiwi composers to create new music to be premiered at the Festival at a series of live gigs. 

Wellington Jazz Festival Hollie Smith Thistle Inn credit Vanessa Rushton 20
Wellington Jazz Festival The Opera House crowd stage balcony music seats
Wellington Jazz Festival 2018 Mingus Ensemble please credit Stephen ACourt HB4725

Coming together to experience great music and Wellington’s famous hospitality will be a particularly special experience this Festival

Marnie Karmelita, Tāwhiri Creative Director

Wellington Jazz Festival 2019 HerbieHancock 2 credit Douglas Kirkland
Wellington Jazz Festival 2019 Alicia HERO Image c supplied by artist
Wellington Jazz Festival Ghost Note HERO Image colour Vogue Theatre Indpls. Indiana c Keith Griner

Wellington Jazz Festival 2019

2019's festival featured a diverse line-up headlined by the one and only Grammy Award-winning jazz legend himself, Herbie Hancock. In his Stuff review Colin Morris called Hancock's concert "A contender for concert of the year." We didn't check back in with Colin to see if another concert surpassed Herbie Hancock, but we can guess that it probably made his top 10. 

Explosive funk ensemble Ghost-Notes brought their seductive danceable grooves and contagious feel-good energy with a gig at Michael Fowler Centre. Wellington audiences were mesmerised by the exquisite and captivating vocals of mezzo-soprano, Alicia Olatuja and gripped by the distinctive sounds of ground-breaking trumpeter, Ambrose Akinmusire with a powerful performance of his genre-defying music that intersects the circles of hip-hop and classical music.

2019's festival featured some homegrown talent with the return of festival favourite Rodger Fox Big Band and a festival-only collaboration between New Zealand jazz trumpeter and composer, Lex French and Montreal-based jazz composer and saxophonist, Christine Jensen.

You might like