All that jazz: Top picks for Cork Jazz Festival this weekend

Now in it’s 41st year the Guinness Cork Jazz festival has been filling the city with music and entertainment on the October bank holiday for over four decades. The streets, the pubs and beyond come alive as local and international acts swing into town and fill the city with music. This years has seen the festival get a bit of a reboot with more events than ever, ticketed and free, a Fringe Festival, it’s first ever street carnival and some tasty festival food. It’s as much about the buzz around town as the jazz. And you don’t have to be a die hard jazz fan to get involved, there is literally something for everyone.

The Headline Acts

The festival attracts some big names and there are still tickets available for most gigs. Cork City Hall plays host to the legendary Blind Boys of Alabama on Friday, two time Mercury prize nominee Laura Mvula on Saturday and Grammy award-winning Maria Schneider and her Orchestra on Sunday. The Everyman hosts Jazz fusion pioneer Billy Cobham and Six-time Grammy Award nominee Nnenna Freelon. Head to Cyprus Avenue for a more unexpected take on gigs with Gavin James, Delorentos and Soulé all playing. Festival favourite Jenny Greene will bring her unique DJ set to the Cork Opera House on Sunday with special guests and local mavericks Generic People supplying cutting edge visuals. And there is so much more - for tickets and gig times see

The Guinness Festival Club

A must visit is The Metropole Hotel, where the festival first started. They also host the Guinness Festival Club with swing, funk, groove, blues and dixieland acts booked in across the weekend. It’s free admission to the gigs on Friday, Monday and all the afternoon sessions and ticketed for Saturday & Sunday nights. You can move between the four stages and the plush newly refurbished Met Bar is a great place to grab a drinks as you plan your jazz adventures.


The Music Trail

If fancy being a bit more breezy in your approach then check out The Music Trail spanning over 40 Cork venues. It’s a great way to explore the brilliant bars of the city and see music acts is as diverse as the venues. The Oyster Tavern is one of Corks oldest establishments founded in 1792, tucked down a lane by The English Market and has live music Saturday and Sunday. Tuck into brunch classics and a few oysters while you’re there. The buzzing riverside bar and restaurant The Electric has a weekend of live jazz planned, there’s bound to be some dancing on the terrace. The Woodford, a city favourite for it’s smart and laid back vibes, has some fun acts booked all weekend. Motown fans should seek out The Papa Zitas playing in Barry’s of Douglas on Friday. There are literally so many more options. Check out the music trail listings here

The Fringe

A new addition to the festival is The Fringe events, kicked off on Thursday night with the fantastic Dia De Los Muertos and continues over the weekend with talks, free concerts and kids events. It’s worth taking a look at the line up here.

Eating & Drinking

Cork offers some of the best city dining in the country and then there are the pubs, of which there are many. The festival has teamed up with some of the bars for Jazz Weekend specials with dishes chosen to match Guinness. Head to The Courtyard on Sober Lane to try The Full Irish Pizza with a pint, it’s also on The Music Trail and they have one of the best terraces in the city. The Cornstore will be offering a Guinness & mussels and The Oliver Plunkett are doing a locally sourced lamb and Guinness stew from the English market. The English Market is a must for any visit to Cork and on a weekend like this you may be happy to balance things out with a visit to My Goodness for their homemade kombuchas and kefirs and there bright, wholesome mezze.

If you’re booking dinner a few places worth looking at are Greenes for superbly cooked locally sourced food, Orso for Middle Eastern flavours, Cafe Paradiso for fine vegetarian cooking, Iyers for excellent Indian and the aforementioned Cornstore for a buzzy cocktail and steak dinner.  For casual bites Son of a Bun do great burgers, The Fish Wife for fish and chips and an absolute must, is a visit to Miyazaki Japanese takeaway.


Drinks won’t be hard to come by but a few places worth seeking out are The Mutton Lane Inn for cosy, old school pints, Cask for a very fun and well-crafted cocktail list, The Shelbourne for the best selection of whiskey in the city, Meades 126 for wine and Arthur Maynes Pharmacy.

The Guinness Cork Jazz Festival takes place from 25th – 29th October

Full details & tickets go to

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