Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival has record return

THE Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, the curtain-raiser to the Capital’s summer arts extravaganza, has reported its best-ever box office return as the final shows were staged last night.

George Benson. Picture: Getty

Organisers have revealed ticket sales of more than 34,500 – more than ten per cent up on the 2014 event, which was the most successful in the festival’s 37-year-history.

More than half a million pounds had already been taken at the box office – surpassing last year’s tally – with 14 final-day shows still to be added in.

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The festival’s overall audience has been boosted by more than 50 per cent since the event was moved to a new date away from the Festival Fringe, which it had traditionally clashed with.

It was attracting around 22,000 attendees each year when it was held at the end of July and beginning of August, but has leapt up by several thousand each year since moving dates in 2011.

Another 30,000 people flocked to the two big free events organised by the jazz festival this month – a Mardi Gras in the Grassmarket and the Festival Carnival in Princes Street.

More than 150 concerts were staged across venues ranging from the historic Tron Kirk, the Queen’s Hall and the Festival Theatre to pop-up venues in St Andrew Square and George Square.

Star turns included Curtis Stigers, Jools Holland, Songhoy Blues, the McCrary Sisters and George Benson, who closed the event last night.

Producer Fiona Alexander said: “I think our figures are down to the craft that we’ve put into the festival, the kind of concentration we have put on our audiences, and the way we’ve used our special venues.

“We’ve nurtured the festival very strongly in the last couple of years, developed it and changed it quite a bit, and are giving people what they are looking for while delivering some very high quality and challenging music.”

A number of local acts also performed this year, including Iain Hunter from Pathhead, who has a day job as a butcher.

He appeared on stage with the BBC arranger Eliot Murray and his big band at the Queen’s Hall.