One of the nicest legacies of the former East Germany's cultural calendar is the International Dixieland Festival in Dresden, which has taken place in the second week in May every year since 1971. It is now Germany's oldest old-time jazz festival and a firm fixture in the European scene. For eight days and seven nights, the capital of Saxony becomes Swingin' Dresden and draws around half a million jazz fans to the city.
The Dixieland family festival at Dresden zoo sounds the musical starting signal for a week full of swing and high spirits at 28 venues right across the city. Other perennial favourites are the grand Dixie night, the jazz band ball at the Kulturpalast in Dresden, blues, boogie & swing at Dresden airport, the jazz mile, Lebenskünstler Open Air and Platzjazz.
One of the annual highlights is the riverboat shuffle on the Elbe, when the world's oldest and largest fleet of paddle-steamers becomes a floating stage and festival-goers are invited to step aboard.
Then on the second Saturday the bands play on various stages between the main train station and Altmarkt, and on the final Sunday there's an open-air jazz concert on the stage in Grosser Garten park. The climax is the Dixieland parade through the city centre, which culminates in a farewell jazz session. In addition to this packed programme, countless smaller events take place in bars, clubs, inns and hotels away from the main stages.
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