Why XJAZZ Festival in Berlin Needs to Be on Your Yearly Musical Calendar

A scene from XJAZZ Festival
A scene from XJAZZ Festival | © Brand & Albrecht/ XJAZZ Festival
Megan King

The wonderful Berlin XJAZZ Festival recently took place in some of Kreuzberg’s coolest locations but you shouldn’t take your jazz pants off just yet, because the festival also hosts many smaller satellite events taking place throughout the summer. Here’s why music lovers living in Berlin should mark their calendars for this jazzy musical delight.

The name you need to know

XJAZZ premiered in 2014, when it became an instant hit and an additional excuse for people to travel to Berlin. The festival takes place at different venues that are all in walking distance to each other in Kreuzberg, the heart of the scene, from intimate clubs to a massive church that make for soaring acoustics. 2017 saw the festival come to life for a fourth time in early May, and was preceded by sister festivals with the same philosophy in Istanbul and Ankara.

Violinist on stage 2017

The festival is not strictly jazz, rather bringing together artists for five days of cross-genre sonic explosions. This contemporary take on jazz music blends the traditional forms with the live electronica, neo-classical composition, ambient soundscapes, spoken word and singer/songwriter influences.

Celebrating local music, their bold programme brings the Berlin music scene into focus, with three quarters of the line-up consisting of local artists. This is something that is considered unique for German festivals, whose increasingly international line-ups make it more difficult for local talent to be exposed.

Performance in the church 2017

And that is one of the key successes of the festival – being able to bring together audiences of all ages and influence into a very accessible and appealing structure, while opening a genre to people who otherwise might not have come into contact with the world of jazz.

This year’s festival also focused on artists doing collaborative projects, from poetic raps and storytelling set to the Stargaze Orchestra, the electronic ballads of local singer-songwriter Dillion, and a closing party at the Funkhaus with Pantha du Prince (the only venue outside of Kreuzberg), the festival blends together the old and the new.

Spoken word and the Stargaze Orchestra 2017

If you missed this year’s XJAZZ Festival, make sure to mark your calendar for the 2018 event. In the meantime, there are still a host of incredible concerts taking place this year, with highlights including Mocky at Prince Charles on August 11, José James at Lido on July 12, and the Sun Ra Arkestra playing on June 27 at Festsaal Kreuzberg.

Here is a preview of what to expect from the Sun Ra Arkestra.


Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Edit article