[Sponsored] Hong Kong’s newest annual music festival, Freespace Jazz Fest, kicks off with a weekend of music, art and dance performances on the big lawn at West Kowloon Cultural District from November 9-10.

Freespace Jazz Fest inherited the spirit of Freespace Happening, which ran at West Kowloon from 2015-2019.

The free stage on the grass hosts a diverse range of local and international acts throughout the weekend, with Hong Kong’s inimitable skyline as the backdrop. It’s the perfect excuse to grab a picnic, unwind in the sunshine with loved ones and enjoy a world-class lineup of jazz and world music.

Saturday’s musical highlights on the lawn include blues-inspired Okinawan roots from Takashi Hirayasu, dreamy folk-fusion from Senivoda, and the acclaimed Patrick Lui Jazz Orchestra feat. Cantopop superstar Elisa Chan. Meanwhile, Sunday brings free performances from grunge-tinted Taiwanese trio Outlet Drift, the sensational Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra feat. Hubert Laws and contemporary Israeli flamenco guitarist Noa Drezner with her Flamenco Quartet.

But it’s not all about the music – Freespace Jazz Fest also has a packed programme of classes, workshops, dance and movies to discover.

Throughout the weekend, the lawn also hosts a handicraft flea market curated by local design workshop A Nice Place To, offering craft workshops and art booths.

On Saturday afternoon, there’s a free indoor screening of bittersweet Academy Award-winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom at the indoor Freespace venue.

Meanwhile, dancers from Hong Kong Ballet add an extra dose of drama throughout Sunday with a series of surprise pop-up performances as well as an on-stage narrated ballet class. All this culminates in a rip-roaring excerpt from The Great Gatsby, unfolding on Sunday evening at the waterfront promenade.

Hungry visitors can fuel up on Italian and French fare at Café Bohème in the Art Park, or grab a sundowner at cafe-bar REST, which serves snacks, hot drinks and happy-hour cocktails overlooking the waterfront. Lau Bak Livehouse in Freespace serves a selection of craft beers and refreshments supplied by local brewer Mak’s Brewery.

West Kowloon Cultural District.

Jazz for Kids

Of course, jazz isn’t just for grown-ups – that’s the message behind “Jazz for Kids,” a special one-hour interactive family concert that runs throughout the fest at indoor venue Freespace. (Ticketed at HK$280.)

“Jazz is very cool – it has the groove. And we want to keep that in this show,” explains Helen Lo, co-founder of children-empowering social enterprise ohmykids and producer of Jazz for Kids. “We don’t want it to be too ‘kiddy’ – it is still totally a music concert, but we want to engage kids. They might not know anything about jazz, but they will relate to the storyline we’ve created.”

During the performance, local musicians perform jazzy renditions of popular kids’ tunes such as Fly Me to the Moon, Emotions Hokey Pokey, I Get Angry and Sad, while an interactive story unfolds.

“We based the story around a colourful character called Siu Kwai [Little Monster] who has some problems with his emotions,” continues Lo. “One common problem kids and parents have is that kids have a lot of emotions but can’t always recognise them all, and it’s hard for them to voice out how they feel. But music heals. And through jazz, we want to let the kids express their emotions freely – whether that be happiness, anger or sadness.”

In the face of Hong Kong’s ongoing unrest, Lo tells us the show’s central theme has developed extra significance. “I honestly didn’t expect the power of healing that came through during the first rehearsal,” Lo recalls. “Everything is so chaotic in Hong Kong at the moment. We want this show to be an outlet for kids and also for the parents to escape from the sadness and the anger and all the emotions we’re experiencing. Ultimately, kids are the future citizens of this world – we want to do something that can be meaningful for society.”

The organisers of Freespace Jazz Fest have rescheduled the festival to start and finish earlier on both days. The Saturday lineup now runs from 10:30am-8pm and the Sunday lineup runs from 11am-7pm. The organisers have also made the two indoor daytime programmes at the black box theatre in Freespace completely free to enjoy.

Date: November 9-10
Time: 10:30am – 8pm (Saturday); 11am – 7pm (Sunday)
Venue: Freespace, Art Park, West Kowloon Cultural District (MTR Kowloon Station Exit E)
Entry: Free.

Visit the Freespace Jazz Fest website for more information.

Hong Kong Free Press

Hong Kong Free Press is a new, non-profit, English-language news source seeking to unite critical voices on local and national affairs. Free of charge and completely independent, HKFP arrives amid rising concerns over declining press freedom in Hong Kong and during an important time in the city’s constitutional development.