By Tony Maiella, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – From June 22nd to the 26th, the 2011 Rio das Ostras Jazz & Blues Festival returns for its ninth consecutive year with 29 free concerts and over sixty hours of music from internationally recognized musicians. Sponsored by a partnership between the State Secretariat of Culture of Rio de Janeiro and V & M of Brazil, this year’s festival is expected to attract a crowd of over 10,000.

The Rio das Ostras Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, News
The Rio das Ostras Beach, photo by Leandro Neumann Ciuffo/Flickr Creative Commons License.

The festival will feature artists such as Medeski, Martin & Wood with saxophonist Bill Evans, Nicholas Payton, Yellowjackets, Jane Monheit, Tommy Castro, José James and Roberto Fonseca. The music will take place on the four outdoor stages Lagoa de Iriry, Turtle, Costazul and St. Peter’s Square.

Rio das Ostras is indeed an idyllic backdrop for such a festival. Flavia Schmidt, a librarian from UFF, recounts, “The ambience is sort of like Woodstock, with everyone, sitting on the ground, drinking wine, enjoying the music underneath the moon and stars.”

The beachside city of Rio das Ostras (population 90,000) is surrounded by fifteen different beaches; many containing ecological wonders where the stages will be located. For example, The Lagoa de Iriry otherwise known as Coca Cola Lagoon, was given its name because of the natural brown hue of the water due to natural sediment formed by a prior sand bar.

Next, Praia da Tarturuga (Turtle Beach) is located next to Apricot Grove Beach, has warm, emerald waters with calm surf ideal for both adults and children. Costazul, the largest beach of the group, provides visitors with an expansive vista and is more suited for surfing, diving, and if you like sitting on the beach, 15,000 square meters of preserved sand. Lastly, Praça São Pedro in the city center is the newest stage to the festival and will host a variety of shows daily starting at 11AM.

A crowd at Palco Iriry from the 2010 festival, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, News
A crowd at Palco Iriry from the 2010 festival, photo by Cezar Fernandes.

Due to over R$1 billion invested in infrastructure over the last four years, Rio das Ostras is well prepared to handle the influx of show-goers. The city offers approximately sixty hotels and inns, which is about 3,000 beds, and roughly thirty restaurants with several kiosks around the beaches. Still, if you are a serious lover of the outdoors, you can easily skip the hotel room and rent a campsite.

The festival originated from monthly jazz and instrumental music shows, in 2001 and 2002, which were met with an enthusiast response from attendees and demonstrated an increase in tourism. In the past the The Rio das Ostras Jazz & Blues Festival has welcomed big names like Ron Carter, Stanley Jordan, John Scofield, Mike Stern, Richard Bona, Kenny Garrett, Egberto Gismonti, Wallace Roney, Robben Ford, Ravi Coltrane, Soulive, Regina Carter, Russell Malone and Spyro Gyra.

Vânia Maria Dacosta Cerqeira Pinto from São Gonçalo recalls her most memorable moment at the festival, “During the closing show in 2009, I saw Spryro Gyra play on the Praia de Tartaruga. The stage was set-up in front of the ocean, and I watched an amazing show with a beautiful sunset in the background.”

This year there is even more of the same rich history to enjoy. It’s hard to find a more idyllic setting to see some of the world’s most talented jazz and blues musicians playing to the laps of the Atlantic’s waves.

For more information and a complete schedule of events please visit:


  1. I’d like to thank Tony Maiella for this brief but excellent article on Rio das Ostras Jazz & Blues Festival. I always go Costazul, but have never attended this famous festival. And after having read this article, I really fell like spending at least two days there (I’ll take advantage of the fact that I don’t need to work on the 23rd or the 24th).

    Best regards!


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