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North Sea Jazz Festival
Photo by Gladys Knight

The largest indoor festival of its kind, the North Sea Jazz Festival is known for capturing the past, present and future of the jazz genre while mixing in blues, soul, funk, hip hop, pop and world performances. While the festival may lack the history and native roots of a U.S. festival, it more than makes up for it with an internationally diverse lineup that draws 100,000  attendees from around the world. Featuring over 200 performances on 16 stages, the festival offers plenty of variety and big names, but strives to maintain the intimate vibe of smaller concerts. The location doesn’t hurt either, as Rotterdam makes for great daytime exploring and sightseeing. With extraordinary art museums and world-renowned architecture throughout the city, festival goers explore the city by day and catch the music at night.

North Sea Jazz Festival Dates and Location

The North Sea Jazz festival is held at the Rotterdam Ahoy convention center in Rotterdam, The Netherlands July 7-9, 2017.

North Sea Jazz Festival Lineup

True to its promise of offering a wide variety of artists, this year’s lineup includes Mary J. Blige, Norah Jones, Usher, The Roots, Van Morrison, Gladys Knight and many more. Jazz artists such as Wayne Shorter and Maceo Parker help stack the lineup for jazz purists. Visit the official site’s lineup page to see the event schedule broken down day-by-day and hour-by-hour. For some expert advice on how to plan around the lineup (as well as other keys) check out the festival’s Pro Tips Guide.  

North Sea Jazz Festival
Photo by Norah Jones

North Sea Jazz Festival Tickets

Ticket options fall into two categories: single day passes and three-day passes.

Adult one-day tickets – $95

Group one-day tickets (up to 10 people) – $738

Youth one-day tickets (can only be purchased with adult tickets) – $22

VIP one-day tickets (includes parking, open bar, food and lounge access) – $388

Plus tickets (to see special performers) – $27 in addition to a regular ticket purchase

Three-day tickets – $230

Three-day VIP tickets – $1,090

“All In” tickets (access to plus concerts all three days) – $339

Also, with any North Sea Jazz Festival ticket, you can get 50 percent off entry at the Kunsthal Rotterdam and Rotterdam museums and 20 percent off at the Nederlands Fotomuseum. For more information on museum discounts visit the festival’s Upgrade Your Ticket page.

Check out the official site’s ticket page for more information

North Sea Jazz Festival
Photo by Maceo Parker

Transportation: Getting to and From North Sea Jazz Festival

Air – Rotterdam The Hague Airport has flights to and from over 40 destinations in Europe. Ahoy is 25 minutes by car from the airport.

Train – From Rotterdam Central Station you can transfer to a metro that will take you to Ahoy (Zudplein stop) in 20 minutes.

Metro – Over 30 bus lines stop at Ahoy, as does the metro train D line (the stop is called Zudplein, not Ahoy). The train has a special schedule for the festival, making its last run at 2:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday morning. Take a look at the metro map to plan a route from your accommodations to Ahoy.

OV-Chipkaart – The OV-Chipkaart is an all-purpose transportation card that grants access to the Rotterdam bus, tram and subway. Throwaway cards are available for temporary use. Go to the OV-Chipkaart website (select the translate option) for more information.

North Sea Jazz Festival
Photo by Amber

Where to Stay for North Sea Jazz Festival

ITB Holland, the official sponsor of the festival, has put together a number of special hotel packages for festival goers.

If a hotel seems boring and you want the full jazz experience, Hotel Rotterdam has organized “Wake Up In Jazz’”, an opportunity to meet a local jazz musician and stay at their house or apartment during your time in Rotterdam. Visit the Wake Up In Jazz page for the details.

The best options for more conventional accommodations are in the city’s center. It’s also the best place for sightseeing.

The Mainport Hotel is a five-star hotel in Rotterdam’s center that has rooms starting at $202. Hotel One Rotterdam is a four-star option with rooms starting at $82. If you’re looking for an Airbnb option, check out this room in the Noord neighborhood, just outside of the center,  at $47 a night.

As for hostels, the King Kong Hostel is about as fashionable as it gets. With dorm accommodations starting at $19, it’s a cheap option and a great way to meet other travelers. 

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