Major ticket boost for Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival
THE curtain raiser for Edinburgh’s summer festivals season has bounced back from a disappointing year at the box office by breaking its 2011 tally before this year’s event was even underway.
The Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, which opened last night and heralds six weeks of cultural events in the capital, moved to a week earlier in the calendar to a direct clash with the Fringe Last year’s festival.
However, ticket sales slumped 4.5 per cent, to 21,285, compared with 2010, with organisers blaming a heatwave over their opening weekend for damaging ticket sales.
It was also thought many regular attendees did not realise the event had switched dates – a move that has allowed it to have exclusive use of venues like the Queen’s Hall and this year’s new addition, the Festival Theatre.
However, now organisers are hoping for good weather this weekend, as the city prepares to host its first ever “festivals carnival”, which the jazz festival is masterminding.
It is planned to replace the Edinburgh Festivals Cavalcade, which had been running since the 1970s but had fallen victim to funding problems and disruption from the city’s tram project.
It is hoped the free events will help raise the profile of the jazz festival in its new slot, as well as help generate interest in events like the Fringe, which will stage its first previews on 1 August.
The final weekend of the jazz festival will also coincide with the opening days of the London Olympics.
Free musical entertainment is be served up on Princes St, Rose Street, and Princes St Gardens on Sunday, the Assembly Rooms will be reopening to the public with a ceilidh on Saturday night, and the Grassmarket will host the jazz festival’s “mardis grass” today.
The jazz festival, which dates back to 1978, has expanded into 14 venues this year after organisers gambled on moving it away from the Fringe.
Among the festival shows expected to attract full houses are Dr John, the Average White Band, Maggie Bell, Jools Holland, Manhattan Transfer and Curtis Stigers, who has sold out his entire run at the Le Monde nightspot.
Clint Eastwood’s singer son Kyle, celebrated New Orleans brass band The Stooges, Detroit songstress Barbara Morrison and English guitar virtuoso Martin Taylor also perform.
Festival director Roger Spence said: “We’re very pleased to report that we’ve now passed the box office takings of £260,000 that we took last year and that’s before any of our opening concerts started.
“We have a lot of big shows on this year, including five at the Festival Theatre and Jools Holland at the Playhouse, and there is no doubt that they’ve made a difference.
“However I think the bad weather has also helped us in a way in that people are looking for something to cheer themselves up.
“Luckily, we’ve got a good forecast over the weekend now, as sustained heavy rain, like we’ve seen in Edinburgh over the last few weeks, would give us a real headache.
“It is going to be a lot different from the cavalcade with jazz performances in the gardens and along Princes Street,and entertainers in Rose Street.
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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