Jazz In Marciac has become one of the biggest and most popular music festivals in Europe, attracting an ever-growing international audience. Every year thousands of visitors assemble to celebrate Jazz In Marciac. With its inauguration in 1978 the festival, which was initially based on traditional jazz, brought New Orleans style jazz bands together. Progressively the festival became longer and more varied. The tireless work of Jean-Louis Guilhaumon, head of the local secondary school, skilled a team of volunteers to champion his passion for music. With its growing success and people coming from all over Europe, Jazz in Marciac started inviting musicians from all over the world to perform. These have included Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Oscar Peterson, Stéphane Grappelli, Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett to mention just a few of the most prestigious names.
Over the last few years blues, rhythm'n'blues and soul have appeared, with well-known names such as Lucky Peterson and Maceo Parker, and Latin jazz with Tito Puente, Irakere or Ray Barreto, and the festival has featured the most avant-garde artists, from Ornette Coleman and Michel Portal's free jazz to Joe Zawinul's world music, thus reacting to an ever-widening public.
During the first two weeks of August Marciac becomes a celebration of music. The giant marquee seats 6,000 and hosts evening concerts, but many more people spend time at the "Off" festival. All day long the whole village is a myriad of activities, free concerts on the square, art exhibitions, films, a market for local products, and stands selling craftwork, not to mention the cafés and bars on every pavement. There is a real village fête atmosphere, centred around jazz, which attracts more than 100,000 visitors a year.
For the last few years concerts have been held at monthly intervals, from October until June, with top names playing. These concerts are linked with weekend courses open to amateurs who want to improve their musical skills, courses which are led by renowned musicians. This is a follow-up to the introduction of the first-ever jazz course in a state school in France, pupils are introduced to jazz music, as part of their curriculum. Indeed, such has been its success that it was recently awarded a "Victoire du Jazz" honour, confirming Marciac as a leader in its domain. In addition, there is the " Territoires du Jazz " museum, an astonishing creation which uses up-to-date audio-visual technology to take visitors on a tour through the universe of Black American music. All of these elements make Marciac a place that "it's worth going out of your way for". For the love of music, for the tourist attractions, for the food, for the experience!