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Northwest Jazz Festival: Lewiston's Leading Summer Gathering

Once the location of the first European settlement in Western New York (early 17th Century), Lewiston is currently a destination complete with historical sites, lush surroundings, and great community events. Whether you're traversing the bluffs for a bird's eye view or cutting through the rapids on a jet boat, the town is the perfect place to see and experience the Niagara River. No trip here can be complete without sampling the excellent local cuisine at locations like Carmelo’s Restaurant, The Silo, and Gallo Coalfire Kitchen


The Northwest Jazz Festival is one of the leading Jazz events on the East Coast, and will take place August 25-26, in downtown Lewiston. Visitors will encounter more than 150 Jazz musicians from 30 bands, performing live on five stages. Two different headlining acts will grace the stage over the course of the two-day event. The Dave Stryker Quintet will perform with Eric Alexander on Aug. 25th and The Hot Sardines on Aug. 26th. Patrons will also encounter a jewelry show featuring some of the finest handmade goods in the region, as well as food samples from some of the area's top vendors. The event supports the local music scene in a variety of ways including Jazz scholarships for high schools seniors, national exposure for local performers, and more. Don’t miss an opportunity to visit the local shops, diners, and pubs between your favorite acts! got the chance to interview Christina M. Crane, a representative of the event, to learn more about this celebration of Jazz.


RAL: How long has the event been running?

CC: We are approaching our 16th Annual Jazz Festival! The Northwest Jazz Festival began in 2001 as the Lewiston Jazz Festival to revitalize the regional Jazz scene. Sixteen years later, the festival has grown to be one of the largest in the Northeast region, featuring over 150 musicians over the two-day event.


RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?

CC: This annual free music festival attracts over 30,000 people to the quaint and historic Village of Lewiston on the Niagara River each August.


RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?

CC: The festival mainly attracts an adult audience, ranging from individuals in their mid-20's to folks in their 90's, who have made the event a tradition. We primarily see groups of friends and couples.


RAL: What makes this event unique?

CC: The two-day event is the largest outdoor jazz festival in Western New York and features non-stop performances on five stages with culinary delights and Niagara Wine Trail wineries along Center Street. There are 30 musical acts with over 150 musicians throughout the two-day event. There's a Jewelry Show during the festival. You’ll also be able to enjoy a special Jazz Mass on Saturday, August 26th at St. Peter R.C. Parish in the Village of Lewiston starting at 4:00 pm. With the variety music, food and entertainment, there is something for everyone during the Jazz Festival.


RAL: What dining options will attendees encounter?

CC: Guests will be able to choose from a variety of culinary options along Center Street. The variety of food options, beverages, and desserts will surely satisfy your taste buds!


RAL: Are there any lodging specials that are set up specifically for the event?

CC: The Niagara Crossing Hotel & Spa is the official hotel of the Northwest Jazz Festival. Lodging in town fills up quickly, so we recommend that people also look for accommodations in nearby Youngstown or Niagara Falls.


RAL: What does this event mean to the community?

CC: This event has been vital to the Lewiston Community and its businesses. This festival generates a lot of foot traffic with people from all over Western New York and Southern Ontario.  Many of our Lewiston restaurants participate as vendors so they can have that initial interaction with the festival attendees. Our Lewiston businesses pride themselves on making a great first impression.


RAL: Does the event support a particular cause in the community?

CC: Yes, the Northwest Jazz Festival has a few causes that it supports:

  • There is a Jazz Scholarship that is given every year to a high school senior.

  • The festival supports local and regional musicians. Except for our Headliners, all of the musicians performing at the festival are locally based.

  • Part of the proceeds from cans and bottles from the Jazz Festival will go to the Community Missions of the Niagara Frontier.


RAL: Why should people come to your event?

CC: People should attend the Northwest Jazz Festival for a memorable overall experience. You get to experience a free two-day festival of non-stop performances from five different stages, so you get to choose your entertainment for the festival!  This event is great for couples, groups of friends, reunion groups, fans of music, fans of food and more!

For more information about The Northwest Jazz Festival, please visit the event website.