A Brief History of The National Arts Festival

The National Youth Jazz Festival is run as part of the Grahamstown National Arts Festival, which has been running since 1974, and is the world’s second-largest cultural festival, and attracts performers from around South Africa and the world.

Early Morning At The Festival, Crowds Go Go About Start in Their Day

It attracts an audience of over 140 000, who cram into the small settler town known for its University and boarding schools, which becomes the centre of life during the festival. Performance venues are created by using all available space, such as schools, churches and community halls.

The National Youth Jazz Festival is included on the Festival programme and takes place on the campus of the Diocesan School for Girls (South Africa)


Although the National Youth Jazz Festival was started in 1991, and the main Jazz Festival started in 1989, the two festivals are now held together and organised by the same administration team.

The Standard Bank Jazz Festival runs for the full 10 days of the National Arts Festival but only accommodates National Youth Jazz Festival for its first six days and brings together more than three hundred young jazz musicians, thirty-five jazz educators and eighty jazz performers from around the world.

The Hustle And Bustle Of Business At The Festival

The festival intends to develop South African jazz by providing educational opportunities for young instrumentalist, encouraging artistic integrity and creativity, creating a forum for young South African musicians to network with peers from around the country and the world, and developing audiences by showcasing original youth produced jazz.

In its week, the festival consists of youth jazz performance, rehearsals, workshops, lectures and networking opportunities for South Africa’s future jazz stars to interact personally and musically with their peers and other performers.

One Of Many Performances That Gripped Audiences

Auditions for young musicians to participate in the National Youth Jazz Festival are held at various points of the year and throughout the country. After a successful auditions musicians are given a place on the Standard Bank National Schools Big Band and the National Youth Jazz Band (NYJB), which performs regularly at festivals around South Africa – and has even performed in New York City, Sweden and the North Sea Jazz Festival, the Netherlands.

One Of The VW Beetles At The Meet The Beetles Stand