Umbria Jazz Festival

The jazz movement's home from home

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Ronnie McCluskey

Ronnie McCluskey
HomeAway travel expert

Jazz musicians playing a set Jazz isn’t so much a genre of music as a universal language. Since its humble origins at the beginning of the 20th century, the expressionism and freedom associated with the genre has reached out to a global audience, and continues to assure its popularity over a century on. From New Orleans to New South Wales there remains a hugely demanding market for jazz musicians to ply their trade: but there are few more spectacular settings to witness such virtuosity than in the city of Perugia.

Every July, this Etruscan haven bursts into life for the ten-day duration of the Umbria Jazz Festival, when the talents of a clutch of renowned jazz musicians are put under the spotlight. Widely regarded as one of the most important events in the jazz calendar, the festival celebrates its 40th anniversary in style in 2013. This is a knees-up that any true music aficionado cannot afford to miss! HomeAway Holiday Rentals has an abundance of Umbria rental properties to choose from, giving you the chance to enjoy the festival from a comfortable base. To give you an idea of what to expect, take a quick look at our guide to the festival.


Umbria Jazz Festival: everything you need to know


Umbria Jazz Festival: history Umbria Jazz Festival: history

The Umbria Jazz Festival stemmed from humble roots. The inaugural festival took place on August 23, 1973, and presented an altogether more subdued ambience than the party spirit it invokes today. In its fledgling years it grew in popularity - to such an extent, in fact, the organisers experienced a logistical nightmare catering for the volume of prospective revellers. Aside from a brief period during the late ‘70s and early ‘80s the event has become a mainstay of the city’s proud heritage, continuing to grow in stature each year.

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Umbria Jazz Festival: artists Umbria Jazz Festival: artists

As its title indicates, the festival is first and foremost a musical showcase: an opportunity for the world’s finest jazz musicians to flex their musical muscle. Let it not be said, however, that this is not a versatile event: a cursory glance at the festival’s previous headliners dispels such a notion in double-quick time. The likes of Elton John, Eric Clapton, Prince and Alicia Keys have all flown the flag for more mainstream music in the last decade alone. This year’s programme is shaping up to be just as impressive as ever, with musical icons such as Herbie Hancock and John Legend already announced. 

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Umbria Jazz Festival: venues Umbria Jazz Festival: venues

It is true that the entire city of Perugia will resonate with the sound of saxophones and slide guitars between the 5th and 14th of July this year. The bulk of the action, though, is concentrated in three or four central areas. Mercifully, the vast majority of events are absolutely free. Those travelling on a budget can immerse themselves in the festivities at Giardini Carducci or Piazza IV Novembre. The bigger names, however, usually tend to play the impressive Arena Santa Giuliana, and understandably, an admission fee is required. The prices are generally reasonable, though, ranging from €13 to €56 depending on the stature of the act in question.

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Umbria Jazz Festival: Winter Jazz Umbria Jazz Festival: Winter Jazz

Presumably one jazz extravaganza simply isn’t enough to satiate public demand; the organisers of the event have decided that Umbria is deserving of two every year! The winter festival is shorter than its sun-soaked cousin, typically taking place between Christmas and New Year, but the festive feel-good factor gives it a bewitchingly irresistible atmosphere. Perugia steps aside as host city for this particular occasion - presumably busy preparing for the madness to come a few months later - but the north Umbrian town of Orvieto embraces the duties with gusto.

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Umbria Jazz Festival: Umbria Umbria Jazz Festival: Umbria

Whether it’s the summer or winter event that sees you jetting off to the heartland of Italia, it would be criminal not to take the opportunity to scope out your wider surroundings away from the party hub. Umbria is on the whole a criminally understated region brimming with its own unique culture and proud heritage. Perugia is a stunning city, but do make the time to visit Trasimeno Lake to experience some naturally breathtaking scenery, or indulge in a spot of water sports. Alternatively, for those wishing to get in touch with their spiritual side, the town of Assisi is unmissable. Birthplace of lauded patron St Francis, it is crosshatched with medieval houses and basilicas athwart narrow, cobblestone streets.

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Villas & Holiday Rentals in Umbria

Luxury 3-bedroom apartment with terrace in Città di Castello, Umbria

This lovingly restored 3-BR apartment in the historic of the Umbrian town of Città di Castello offers all the quality, comfort and facilities of a real home and is ideally located for touring central Italy. The property is on two floors. On the lo...

Villa in Todi with 5 bedrooms sleeps 10

Comfortable and welcoming country house just a few kilometres from Todi, the famous city overlooking the Tevere valley, built by the Etruscans between 300 and 100 BC. The house sits in a tranquil spot among Umbria's green hills, and offers beautif...

Villa in Alviano with 1 bedrooms sleeps 4

Nice property situated in Umbria comprising 5 apartments and a large 50-hetare farming estate with horse riding center (the riding school is a member of the Italian equestrian sports federation – the main event is the steeplechase). All of the ap...

Villa in Baschi with 3 bedrooms sleeps 8

Nice independent villa with private swimming-pool situated on the hills of Umbria. This property is in quiet and panoramic location and offers large outdoor areas that allow to relax in close contact with nature. The villa is well-stocked, tastefu...

Spoleto By The Pool, Fab Apts, Terraces/12 mins walk to Spoleto Centre

Spoleto By The Pool consists of two 16C stone cottages, beautifully converted into 2-bdrm apts with large pool, Jacuzzi and expansive gardens. Atop a hill, outside the city walls, amidst resplendent grounds, immersed in acres of wondrous countrysi...

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