July: First Cheltenham Festival, from 1974 Cheltenham International Festival.  Originally began festival of Brit. contemporary music but scope widened in 1969 to embrace contemporary music of other nationalities.


Edinburgh International Festival programme 1947. Source: ArchivesHub

First Edinburgh International Festival of Music, Drama and the Visual Arts, also known as Edinburgh Festival; Edinburgh Fringe also starts same year. ”It has apart from its musical value a very great social importance . . . It brings people together from every quarter of the country, and from England as well of course.  It brings other people from France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Belgium and so on, and it is quite obvious that at this period in the history of Europe, there are few things more desirable and more necessary than bringing people together in amity, and allowing them to meet on perhaps the only common ground of meeting, where there can be no likely chance of them disagreeing for more than two minutes or coming to blows, and that is music’ (George Bruce (1975) Festival in the North: The Story of the Edinburgh Festival. London: Robert Hale & Company: 37).


22-28 February: First Nice Jazz Festival: the first international jazz festival, featuring traditional jazz, swing, and bop, and headlined by Louis Armstrong and his All Stars, Jack Teagarden, Earl Hines, Barney Bigard, Sid Catlett, Sandy Williams, Rex Stewart, Mezz Mezzrow, Pops Foster, Baby Dodds, and Humphrey Lyttelton (Lyttelton, Humphrey (2008) Last Chorus: An Autobiographic Medley. London: JR Books: 152). The Festival was organised by the French Government and Hugues Panassié and his Hot Club of France (ibid.).

May: First Bath Assembly, later Bath International Music Festival, founded by Ian Hunter. In his introduction to the 1948 Bath Assembly, Horace Annesley Vachell of Widcombe Manor ended with: ‘Edinburgh rose and gripped a great opportunity. We must do the same. Pilgrims of yore were admonished to see Naples and die. Let us say to all the world: “Come to Bath and live.”’ (cited in Knowles 2011). In 1959, Hunter invited Yehudi Menuhin to become artistic director of the Festival, a post he held until 1968.

May: First jazz festival in Paris (at the Salle Pleyel), and again in May 1949 on the same location. Both featured a mix of international star (Hawkins, Gillespie, Parker, Miles, Bechet, Reinhardt) and European talent from France, the UK, Switzerland, Italy, and Belgium. The Paris festivals were organised by Charles Delaunay, once fellow of Panassié (who staged Nice) but now in competition with one another (the result of one of the famous jazz hot vs sweet jazz, or real vs modern jazz) (thanks to Matthias Heyman for this and the following contribution).

August: A jazz festival took place in Ostend and Knokke, two popular seaside resorts in Belgium, this time not with American stars but again representative bands from various (Western) European countries (more or less the same as in France, although not necessarily the same bands).

5–13 June: First Aldeburgh Festival, founded by the composer Benjamin Britten, the singer Peter Pears and the librettist/producer Eric Crozier.  Used venues including the Aldeburgh Jubilee Hall, and featured a performance of Britten’s Albert Herring by the English Opera Group.