The Copenhagen Jazz Festival is held annually in early July with free admission to many of the around 1300 live music shows and events.
Jazz music remains hugely popular in Denmark, and Scandinavia in general, which explains the popularity of the Copenhagen Jazz Festival held each year during the first half of July. Around 1,300 concerts are staged in 130 different venues ranging from intimate cafés to churches and major music halls to outdoor venues with spectacular backdrops. Admission to many concerts, especially outdoor performances, is free.
The Annual Copenhagen Jazz Festival
The Copenhagen Jazz Festival is one of the largest annual music events in Europe. Established in 1979, the festival currently includes in the official program around 1,300 concerts staged at around 130 different venues over ten action-packed days.
The musicians are a mixture of homegrown talent and international artists with Scandinavian and German performers featuring prominently. In contrast to many other major “jazz” festivals, the Copenhagen Jazz festival actually focuses on jazz music and does not include many pop or rock music performances in the program.
The Copenhagen Jazz Festival is held annually for ten days starting on the first Friday in July – no festival in 2020.
Concerts start daily at 10:00 with the final shows commencing around midnight. Jazz.dk is a great source with the full program and links to venues and ticket vendors.
Free Concerts at the Copenhagen Jazz Festival
Copenhagen is generally not a cheap city but many of the jazz concerts are very reasonably priced compared to performances in other major cities. Furthermore, a large number and wide variety of concerts each day are completely free.
During the jazz festival free concerts are staged in many squares and parks in especially central Copenhagen. Free, or low-priced, concerts are also held in the large number of community halls and churches in various parts of Copenhagen. Most days also see a street parade to entertain and attract attention to the jazz festival.
Jazz is also played in many bars and beer garden style restaurants where admission is free but common decency requires the consumption of a meal or at least a drink.
As is usually the case in Copenhagen, free in no way determines the quality of the music on offer. For example, in 2016, the DR Big Band with Palle Mikkelborg played a free outdoor concert at Ofelia Plads – expect to fork over DKK200 to DKK400 to hear them perform in the Konserthuset!
Tickets are best bought online in advance for top venues such as the Betty Nansen Theater, Charlie Scotts, DR Koncerthuset, Jazzhouse, and the Opera House.
Transportation to Copenhagen Jazz Festival Concerts
Walking and cycling are usually the simplest way to travel in central Copenhagen but during the Jazz Festival, a special event ticket is available for travel on public transportation. This Eventbillet comes in two versions: Lille (small) that is valid in zones 1-4 and Stor (big) that is valid in all zones. The ticket may be used on any bus, metro or S-Tog train.
The ticket is valid for unlimited travel for 12 hours – from either 14:00 to 2:00 the following morning, or from 8:00 to 20:00 for the Jazz for Kids version. The ticket is DKK30 for small and DKK60 for the big version and do not actually require a ticket to any of the music shows. This makes these tickets quite a useful savings deal for visitors to Copenhagen during the Jazz Festival period – similar 24-hour tickets are more than double the price.
Two children under 12 years travel for free with one paying adult.
The Eventticket is only sold online and comes as an SMS or email message.
More Music in Copenhagen
Outside the Jazz Festival period, Jazz may also be enjoyed in many permanent jazz venues in Copenhagen or during the VinterJazz (Winter Jazz Festival) held in February throughout Denmark. Jazz.dk is a great source on jazz music in Denmark.
Free music may also be enjoyed in many of Copenhagen’s churches – mostly, but not always, classical and often not of a particularly religious nature.