Arranged annually since 1964, Kongsberg Jazz Festival always takes place during the first week of July, drawing excellent musicians from all over the world. Buddy Guy has played here, as have Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Diana Krall, BB King, Jamie Cullum and many, many more. Famous local jazz artists have abounded as well, including Røyksopp and fab saxophonist Jan Garbarek.
My kids love strolling around Kongsberg during the festival, looking at handicrafts for sale, trying new foods and listening to music from stages around the city. Free concerts are offered at various venues around town.
The festival has a special focus on children, both by supporting SOS Children’s Villages through the building of Kongsberg Jazz House, soon home to 12 children in Blantyre, Malawi – and by arranging a children’s jazz festival. Barnivalen (“barn” meaning children in Norwegian) is organised for, by and with kids – and includes kids’ concerts, workshops, a rhythm instrument parade, a treasure hunt in the silver mines (Kongsberg was once a silver mining city), jazzy films at the cinema, and a paint jam concert – combining painting with cool tunes.
Kongsberg Jazz Festival takes its social duties seriously through its long term collaboration with Amnesty International – and by being a certified eco-festival. Coffee served at the main venue is fair trade, so you can be sure the farmer has been fairly paid for his coffee beans.