Calling all jazz fans! (And yes, even those of you out there who can’t tell your ragtime from your swing…). Be part of the movement this October bank holiday weekend – October 28th-31st – and join the vibrant mix of more than 40,000 musicians and music enthusiasts flocking from all over the world to one of Europe’s premier jazz events: the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival.
Held every year since 1978 and hailed as Ireland’s biggest jazz event, it’s attracted some of the biggest names in the industry, from the legendary Ella Fitzgerald to the iconic Herbie Hancock. With red-hot street music from six colourful groups, a series of free workshop-style Jazz Camps and performances in over 70 spectacular venues across the city (most of which are free admission), for one weekend only, the music doesn’t stop!
And with some of the city’s most desirable hotels in on the action, from hosting their own exclusive live music performances and laidback decadent Jazz Brunches, you’ll never miss a beat.
The Metropole Hotel Cork
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Why not get into the swing of things at the place that started it all? The Metropole Hotel is right at the heart of the Cork Jazz Festival, with Jim Mountjoy, the marketing manager of the Metropole Hotel at the time, founding the festival in 1978 to coincide with the newly instituted October bank holiday.
The Metropole has continued its reputation as the home of jazz in Cork, with free admission to top music and fringe every day during the festival. Unmissable for an ultimate festival experience, the famous Guinness Festival Club at the Metropole Hotel plays host to an exciting range of diverse artists and music on several stages throughout the Jazz Festival weekend, from jazz, soul, swing, groove, funk, and blues, with a line-up featuring artists from Ireland, USA, UK, Cuba, Netherlands and Germany.
The Metropole also offers its guests an exclusive Jazz Brunch, where you can enjoy your Saturday and Sunday afternoon in their Riverview Restaurant overlooking the River Lee. The sociable and soulful event will serve up a scrumptious selection of dishes along with cool sounds by one of the festival’s most talented groups, The Clubmen, from 12 noon to 3pm. Visitors can also indulge at two special Jazz & Dine evenings held across the jam-packed musical weekend, on Saturday October 29th and Sunday October 30th from 6pm to 9.30pm.
The River Lee Hotel
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This gorgeous 4-star luxury hotel is ideally located for jazz fans visiting Cork city. A perfect mix of chic contemporary vibes and cool classic style, The River Lee Hotel offers guests a unique slice of Cork culture, perched on a picturesque bend in the eponymous River Lee.
A beloved spot on the festival Music Trail, the hotel is an easy walk from the centre on the Western Road and close to all the must-see musical action. A well-known feature of Cork’s social eclectic scene, the hotel’s buzzy Weir Bistro and Bar (complete with stunning riverside terrace) offers superior views of the River Lee and is full of Corkonian charm and character.
The Weir Rooms serve locally sourced, seasonal cuisine from 6.30am to 10.30pm every day, so you can sit back and enjoy the atmosphere under one of their cosy Donegal tweed blankets before you head into town, or enjoy the in-house entertainment with live performances from , or you can even kick things up a notch and let your hair down thanks to the resident late-night DJs.
Clarion Hotel Cork
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The Clarion, Cork’s premier 4-star city centre hotel, is the perfect location for any urban festival-goer this bank holiday weekend. Just a leisurely stroll to all the musical hotspots of the city, it’s a key stop on the festival’s distinctive Music Trail, boasting an impressive musical line-up and unique central setting.
Choose between the freshly transformed Atrium Café (which even includes its very own giant EGG, seating 4 people!) or the slick, ultra-modern Kudos Bar serving delicious Asian food straight from the wok. The Atrium opens from eight ‘til late and you enjoy can its Buddha café-bar type menu, while Kudos is perfect for informal dining on the Boardwalk of the Cork City Quarter.
As for the in-house entertainment, the hotel’s headline act is The Des Hopkins Dixieland Jazzband, returning to the Clarion for his 11th year as their main attraction, providing patrons with a one-of-a-kind Dixieland jazz experience.
The Imperial Hotel Cork
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The 200 year old Imperial Hotel Cork – the oldest property in the city – is ideally located in the very centre of Cork on the South Mall, just on the doorstep of the world-famous English Market.
The Imperial Flynn Hotel offers visitors a bit of history with their jazz thanks to the intimate alcoves and quirky nooks and crannies of their classic lounge Seventy Six on the Mall, complete with extensive bar menu.
One of the Guinness Music Xtra hotspots, the Imperial plays host to an impressive jazz line-up where you can be part of all the action this October bank holiday weekend, featuring acts playing from Friday 28th to Monday 31st.
Whether you’re here for leisurely afternoon performances or dazzling shows in the luxurious ballroom, the Imperial provides you with a jazz experience unlike any other.
Cork International Hotel
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With luxury accommodation, excellent amenities and located close to the city centre, Cork International Airport Hotel is the ideal place to stay throughout the jazz festival, especially if you’ve joined the thousands of people from all over the world who’ve arrived to experience the magic first-hand!
Guests at Cork International Hotel are spoiled for choice when it comes to dining and relaxing before, after or even during the weekend’s festivities. After recently undergoing a massive €1 million refurbishment, you’re sure to enjoy a top-quality dining experience, whether you feel like enjoying a sophisticated evening meal at the luxurious New Yorker Bar with live jazz from the Loungeman, or a lazy late breakfast in the newly-refurbished Atlantic Restaurant before setting off to explore for the day.
The Kingsley Hotel
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The Kingsley is a fabulously extravagant hotel only a 10-minute drive from Cork Airport. Here you can find your inner jazz aficionado in The Fishers Bar, an intimate and attractive lounge with a wonderfully traditional feel. Serving a selection of local Cork stouts and beers, as well as craft ciders and classic whiskeys, it’s the perfect backdrop to the weekend’s festivities. The bar’s name pays tribute to the hotel’s individual little emblem, the stylish and vibrant kingfisher, who is often seen meandering along the riverbank.
Part of the official Guinness Jazz Trail, the Kingsley is hosting a number of exclusive performances over the weekend of the festival, including a dynamic Jazz Brunch on Sunday 30th of October. Each afternoon, kick back and ease yourself into the jazz mood with the musical maestro that is Fiona Kennedy, one of Cork’s most famous singer/songwriters, and the energetic Niall Marron Quartet, while on Sunday 30th October, Head Chef Ger Lynch will host an indulgent Jazz Brunch between 1.30 & 3.30pm.
Maldron Hotel Cork
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The newly-refurbished 3-star Maldron Hotel and Leisure Club is an ideal base for anyone attending the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival gigs. Situated in the heart of Cork’s historic Shandon quarter, it’s the perfect opportunity to soak up the electric atmosphere of the Jazz Festival while experiencing true Irish hospitality, all just a stone’s throw away from the best jazz hotspots in the city.
The hotel’s lively Bells Bar is just a 3 minute-walk to the city centre and only 0.4 miles from the action. Displaying local artwork showing the history and heritage of this part of the city, the bar serves up an extensive bar menu from 12.30pm to 9.30pm daily, offering starters, light snacks, hot meals and desserts, so you’ll be perfectly fuelled before you make your way into all the action. With the bar serving drinks from 10.30am – 12.30am, it’s the ideal place to have a casual one or two before you leave, or even just before bedtime!
Hayfield Manor Hotel
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On the October Bank Holiday Jazz weekend, why not relax at the upscale 5-star Hayfield Manor with some gentle live jazz music and delicious food? Every year, Hayfield Manor organise a sumptuous Jazz Brunch with musical entertainment for its guests, creating a dreamy, chilled atmosphere with timeless jazz classics in their signature restaurant, Orchids.
Overlooking the beautiful private gardens and the leafy grounds of the hotel, Hayfield Manor’s Gourmet restaurant boasts soft lighting and flickering candles – the perfect environment to enjoy exquisite contemporary Irish cuisine using the freshest local ingredients. The annual Jazz Brunch will begin at 1.00pm on Sunday 30th October and is a must-do for the weekend.
The Ambassador Hotel & Health Club Cork
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The beautiful Victorian 4-star Ambassador Hotel & Health Club sits on top of Military Hill, in the historic area of St Luke’s. Offering guests unparalleled city and harbour views of Cork, and at just a 15-minute walk from the city centre, it’s perfect for visitors who want a bit of a break during the busy Jazz weekend.
If you don’t feel like making your way into the city every night, why not try McGettigtan’s Cookhouse and Bar? Committed to using the finest quality, locally sourced ingredients and providing a relaxed environment for every visit, McGettigan’s – launched in 2014 – boasts Cork’s newest outdoor decking area, so you can enjoy fantastic ambience, great food and spectacular views over Cork city.
The Montenotte Hotel Cork
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The 4-star Montenotte Hotel enjoys a superb location overlooking Cork city. Priding itself on having more than 50 years in hospitality service, the hotel provides its guests with something a little bit different this bank holiday weekend. With relaxing surroundings and a warm, welcoming atmosphere, it’s beautifully situated in the quiet residential area of Montenotte, yet with all the convenience of a city centre hotel.
The hotel’s Panorama Bistro & Terrace has a range of menus from breakfast, casual daytime dining, bar bites and an evening a la carte, so it offers the perfect opportunity for a mini-escape while still being able to enjoy the unique atmosphere of the bank holiday weekend. Whether you fancy sampling local craft beers or watching the sunset over Cork city with a glass of wine on the cantilevered terrace, the bright and airy open plan Panorama is a unique dining experience, and an ideal way to unwind after some vibrant street jazz.
Fancy exploring more than the soulful depths of jazz this bank holiday weekend? Then why not take a daytrip to some of Cork’s stops on the world-renowned Wild Atlantic Way?