Neighbourhood Living: Your Guide to the Markham Jazz Festival


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MARKHAM – When York Region’s cultural calendar flips over to August, there are few events more worthy of anticipation than the TD Markham Jazz Festival.

A community tradition for nearly two decades, the Festival is one of the Region’s largest events in terms of geographical scale – with participating venues scattered as far west as Woodbine Avenue, and as far east as Main Street Markham.

Since its conception in 1997, the Markham Jazz Festival has grown immensely not only in popularity, but in the quality of its featured artists – which include not just jazz acts, but also a variety of other genres such as soul, blues, choral, and Latin music. Last year alone, the Festival’s headlining acts included legendary Canadian performers Bruce Cockburn and Jackie Richardson.

2015’s edition of the Festival, taking place from August 13th to the 16th, will be both preceded and followed by intimate performances at “Hotspots” around the city, which include local well-known haunts such as the Blacksmith’s Bistro and the Duchess of Markham. As usual, however, many of the biggest performances will be free ones at the three “Main Stages,” all located along historic Main Street Unionville:

Markham Subaru Stage (Millennium Bandstand)

Widely regarded as a local favourite for wedding photos and musical performances alike, Main Street Unionville’s most recognizable outdoor stage has been a City of Markham institution since 2001. This year’s schedule for the stage includes Alicia Olatuja, the Charlie Hunter Trio, and more.

Varley Art Gallery

vocalist Diana Panton, on the evening of Thursday, August 18. Throughout the rest of the festival, the Varley’s patio will transform into a free outdoor venue, hosting multiple acts.

Mercedes Stage (McKay Art Centre)

Dating back to 1840, the historic Kathleen McKay/Salem Eckhardt House – Frederick Horseman Varley’s final home – will transform into a “wine and beer garden” for the duration of 2015’s Jazz Festival, welcoming visitors to its lawn for refreshments and even more free performances.

Getting to the Festival

While this year’s Jazz Festival organizers are anticipating some traffic delays within the vicinity of Main Street Unionville, the good news is that there are now two shuttle services – one departing from Markville Mall, and the other from the Markham Civic Centre – which will both provide free transportation to the area.

To view more information on the TD Markham Jazz Festival, purchase tickets, or explore the complete performance schedule, we encourage you to visit the Festival’s official web site at