Bansko Jazz festival 8th-13th August

The Bansko Jazz Festival 2010 runs from 8th August to 13th August. So, as keen as mustard, I attended the media and press launch of the Bansko Internaional Jazz Festival 2010 programme at Sofia’s BTV building. The legendary festival organiser, Dr Emil Iliev, spoke about this year’s event and the programme of international musicians.

This year promises to even surpass the 2009 Bansko Jazz Festival with more music in more locations than ever before. On the 7th August there is a special bonus; a tribute to Lea Ivanova. The performance of her songs by Desi Teniidjieva and Mary Teneva will ensure the festival continues it growth and international reputation. 

Background to Dr Emil Iliev – organiser and director of the Jazz Festival  


A doctor of medicine and dermatology, Dr Iliev combines modern medicine with traditional Chinese medicine, including acupuncture. He worked in Austria, Germany and Switzerland in the communist era as well as being a consultant on a cruise line and has visited 140 countries. He plays the piano. He has a 40 year old son and a daughter. 

The Birth of The Bansko Jazz Fest 


Bulgaria Music Festival Main Stage Piano: 2009’s Jazz Festival 

 His connections abroad saw demand for his clinics in Bansko from his wealthy German, Austrian and Swiss clients. He realised that they were staying for three weeks not just for treatment but for culture too. So in the beginning, he got together with friends and musicians for a Jazz night and a Jazz BBQ. 

These small sessions started many years before the main festival events. 

One year he met the mayor of Bansko and suggested an idea — that they should have a proper Bansko Jazz music festival. First year there were sixty or seventy people.  Now there are six to seven thousand people who attend the event. 

The Festival Future 

Dr Iliev explained to me that he wants to grow the festival to 300,000 attendees in the next seven to eight years. This is hugely ambitious. I don’t think anyone would have dared think the event could grow to even its current size thirteen years ago. 

So I won’t be betting against this target. 

This was my first meeting with Dr Iliev, but immediately I could feel his enthusiasm, his connection with other music enthusiasts and his immense capacity to work tirelessly as both a doctor and festival organiser. 

Festival Sponsorship

I must add that his achievement must have been a huge mountain to climb. There has been very little money for commercial music festivals in Bulgaria. Dr Iliev established this event on small amounts of money –  but topped it up with a huge amount of interpersonal skill. His connections and enthusiasm seem to bring out the goodwill and generosity in others. Impressive. 

The general sponsors are again First Investment Bank (main investor in the ski lift company Ulen) and the Bansko Municipality. Main sponsors are Sony, LUKoil and Vega Star. I would also like to mention that Todoroff winery are a festival sponsor and, at the press event, I tasted their new white Muskat and their new red “SPV” (Sante Per Vine — health though wine!). SPV is a Mavrud, Cabernert Sauvignon, Merlot blend. For more wine reviews check out 

More Music Than Ever Before: From BBQ To The Early Hours 

This year Bansko Royal Towers (another Festival sponsor) will be not only hosting the excellent stage B concerts from 16:00 until 17:30 every day from the 8th August but also the JAZZ BBQ! Music and food from 12:00 until 14:00. Bansko Royal Towers is the place to go for the Dixie Teteven Band and for Rumie Alexandroff’s “Ragtime Band” in the afternoon session. All very accessible for non Jazz enthusiasts.When the main Nikola Vaptsarov Square concerts end, it’s then time to stroll down the hill to the Florimont Hotel and Night . Here the party will continue with live music until the early hours. This addition shows just how much there is to be had in Bansko.

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In 2006, RilaDev a English Bulgarian homebuilder embarked on one of the most ambitious hotel and residential project in Bansko, Bulgaria, Pirinea Hotel Spa and Residence.

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