You may think that Edinburgh only welcomes one festival every year, the Fringe, but the Scottish city is big enough, talented enough and cherished enough to host 12 festivals each year. Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival features 10 summer days packed with world leading artists from the Jazz and Blues genres, bringing bop, boogie-woogie, blues-rock, samba, swing and soul to the city’s top venues. Galleries, theatres and pubs will be jumping, while a free open-air Mardi Gras and Festival Carnival bring the atmosphere out onto the streets. With a mix of free performances, great value individual events and locations all over Edinburgh, there’s no excuse not to get involved when the Festival rolls into town from 14th to 23rd July 2017.
Nearing its 40th birthday, Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival has been a fixture of the summer festival calendar since 1978. Beginning with one man’s dream to bring free traditional jazz to the pubs of Edinburgh, by the mid-80s the Festival had grown to cover all manner of venues across the city, offering a broad range of jazz and blues music from every era. With Jazz fans from all over the globe beginning to attend, free events continued in the Grassmarket area behind Edinburgh Castle and sponsors and breweries got involved to help create the Festival as we know today. International names came to perform, from the legendary solo saxophonist Buddy Tate to French favourites the Hot Antic Jazz Band.
Throughout the 1990s more venues joined the Festival, as music moved away from the pubs and into purpose built concert halls, arts centres, converted churches and enormous tents. The free carnival has also continued to grow, with over 700 performers taking part alongside an army of volunteers. By 2016 over 170 gigs took place across the 10 days, from household names such as Jools Holland, to brand new acts looking to bring creativity and raw talent to the city. Sadly 2016 also saw the death of the Festival’s original founder, Mike Hart, but his legacy lives on in a big way. Back for an even bigger 2017 with 120 acts already announced, the Jazz & Blues Festival is a firm fixture in the festival capital of the world.
Described by the New York Times as the best funk band from New Orleans right now, this American 5-piece has been touring the globe playing at some of the world’s largest music festivals. After releasing an album collaborating with Trombone Shorty and Flea from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, they’ll be bringing their deep and gritty grooves to George Square this July. Descended from the Neville Brothers, Dumpstaphunk mix dirty rhythms, duelling basslines and beautifully arranged keys to get the whole crowd grooving.
Miles Davis is famous for creating Jazz’s greatest record of all time when he released Kind of Blue in 1959. Shortly before this iconic record, he brought together a very special nine-piece band for a compilation album of innovative arrangements and talented instrumentation which changed the face of Jazz forever. Now, Jazz giant Richard Ingham re-creates the music with an all-star band including Allon Beauvoisin, and Helena Kay at the Piccolo Speigeltent, a Dutch circus tent between George Square and the Meadows.
The internationally famous king of boogie boogie, swing and R&B returns to Edinburgh once more with special guests and his fantastic Rhythm & Blues Orchestra. Jools Holland is raising the roof of the festival even further with high-energy performances joined by ex-Squeeze members Gilson Lavis and Chris Difford, plus regular guest vocalists, Ruby Turner, Beth Rowley and Louise Marshall.
At just 28 Sarah McKenzie has already enchanted jazz fans with two albums, We Could Be Lovers and Paris in the Rain. Moving from Melbourne to Paris and appearing at Edinburgh in the midst of her meteoric rise to fame, Sarah McKenzie is one to watch for the future and one to enjoy right now, bringing classic jazz, easy swing and great American joy to the stage.
Central Edinburgh is overrun with Louisiana soul, as the Grassmarket hosts a New Orleans-style Mardi Gras on 15th July. This completely free public event has brought 4 stages to the streets of Edinburgh, with 9 bands ready to perform from 1 – 4 pm. Early in the Jazz and Blues festival calendar, this mini New Orleans is the perfect way to warm up for an unrelenting week of performances.
Another free event takes place the day after the Mardi Gras, with a packed schedule featuring a parade from The Mound down Princes Street, finishing at the West End. The dance performance, music, costumes, circus acrobatics and puppetry from all over the world continues into the afternoon, with over 800 carnival performers offering samba, Chinese dance, Peking opera and hula hooping – and you can come along and be a part of the action.
The Jazz festival isn’t limited to one venue, but hosted in iconic locations throughout the city, including three Spiegeltents. These venues-with-a-difference are travelling tents, pitched in West Princes Street Gardens, George Square and Assembly Gardens, playing host to swathes of acts during the festival. Adding an atmosphere of circus, carnival and cabaret to each performance, these tents are a unique and intimate way to enjoy each act.
Your journey to Edinburgh with Megabus is easy and straightforward. Simply book your ticket to travel direct from 27 different locations across the UK – including London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Newcastle and Manchester – going right into the centre of this vibrant city. With limited parking options in Edinburgh and road closures for the Carnival, Mardi Gras and other street events, your journey will run much more smoothly when travelling in our comfortable coaches.
When you arrive in Edinburgh, there are plenty of travel options to get to the festival venues – including bike, bus, tram or on foot. The Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival has events across the whole city – including the Rose Theatre, Heriot’s Rugby Club, The Traverse Theatre and Festival Theatre – so take your time and soak up the atmosphere as you make your way from venue to venue.
If you’re staying for a few days or more, you don’t need to travel light. Our luggage allowance is a generous 20kg per person, so you can relax and pack everything you need without worrying about space restrictions on the coach. Head to https://uk.megabus.com/ to book your tickets today!
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