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Blog - Celebrating Jazz & Blues at the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival

Posted on 08/06/2014

From 18th until 27th July Jazz & Blues take over Edinburgh as the festival takes centre stage. It’s one of the smaller Edinburgh festivals which sometimes get swamped by the others surrounding it such as the Fringe, but it still have some seriously entertaining moments and brings in some world famous artists.

Edinburgh Jazz Festival was set up in 1978 by a famous banjo and guitar player called Mike Hart. The initial festival had a traditional jazz feel and initially had a free admission to range of events in pubs around the city. By the 1980s ticketed events were added and the musical policy had extended further encompassing mainstream and swing jazz as well as a couple of choice modern acts.

The Festival began to gain interest and found itself at the forefront of the genre. International names from the classic and swing jazz worlds made their way up to Edinburgh and regular visitors including The Black Eagles Jazz Band, Buddy Tate and many others.

By the middle of the 1990s Edinburgh’s music venues were very different. Music in pubs was not as regular as it had been and the festival organisers had to be more creative and artistic with their approach. A wider range of jazz and blues acts were brought into the mix and now almost all events for the festival are ticketed with the main parade and Mardi Gras remain free.

The Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival lead to the creation of the Edinburgh Jazz Festival Orchestra and it has a commitment to nurturing local musical talent as well as bringing in big stars from the wider world. Big names who have attended the event in the past include Dionne Warwick, Jools Holland and Wynton Marsalis. Many venues across the city get involved with the festival and though many are gearing up to the Fringe plenty still don’t want to miss out on the cool jazz and blues atmosphere.

This year’s festival includes a wide range of different events, with something for almost every type of jazz fan. The acts turning up include Van Morrison, Main Street Blues and The Rad Trads. Record crowds are expected this year and the festival has been highly promoted with even more excitement than previous years. The event also unsurprisingly has a Commonwealth theme as the Commonwealth Games take place just down the road in Glasgow. The festival is also paying homage to the commemoration of the centenary of the First World War – exploring the connection between the creation of jazz and The Great War.

 It’s also the type of festival which attracts fans from across the world and our Edinburgh accommodation is perfect for accessing a range of venues and enjoying the city as a whole. The festival is one of those that die hard jazz fans never forget but generalists may not remember at all. It’s a special festival which can make a break in Edinburgh even more enjoyable and help ensure your holiday or short break is infinitely more memorable.


 Photo credit: Mate Toth