Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival

Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival
Photo: edinburghjazzfestival.com
The Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival is an annual music festival held every summer in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is one of the events known collectively as the Edinburgh Festival. The Edinburgh Jazz Festival was founded in 1978 and has since become one of the most important cultural events in Scotland.

The Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival was created by Scottish guitarist and banjo player Mike Hart. Hart’s original focus was on traditional jazz and free-admission concerts taking places in local pubs. By the mid-1980s the festival had broadened its musical policy to encompass other styles such as mainstream jazz, swing and blues, and added ticketed events. The administration became more professional and the festival gained significant sponsorship.

The festivals approached had shifted a bit by the mid-1990s due to the changes in Edinburgh’s social landscape. Concerts in pubs became less popular while ticketed events attracted audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Today the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival presents almost exclusively ticketed events, showcasing music from most jazz styles and artists from around the world.

The festival’s signature free events are the Mardi Gras in the Grassmarket and the Edinburgh Festival Carnival. The Mardi Gras presents four hours of music on four stages located in a historic marketplace in the Old Town of Edinburgh. The Edinburgh Festival Carnival is the highlight of the festival season in the city. It opens with a spectacular parade featuring over 700 musicians that marches from The Mound along Princes Street and culminates with over two hours of performances in Princes Street Gardens. Alongside jazz musicians, the parade features Caribbean music, dancers, percussionists, brass bands, circus performers, and more.

Since the inception of the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival, its artistic policy has concentrated on musical excellence rather than some “star quality”. The festival encourages spontaneous creativity such as improvisation which has always been considered important in jazz and jam sessions. The Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival welcomes both local artists and international performers, offering its attendees a rich and diverse programming.

In 2020, the event was held online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival

Photo: Sandy Blair




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