Edinburgh Festival Carnival and Grassmarket ‘Mardi Gras’ revived as part of city’s jazz and blues celebration

Edinburgh is to revive its “Festival Carnival" along Princes Street and a “Mardi Gras” event in the Grassmarket to herald the start of the the 75th-anniversary season of the city’s annual cultural celebration.

Both events will be revived on the opening weekend of the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, the first of the big summer events to return this year.

More than 130 concerts will be staged at venues across the city across the ten days of the festival, which is one of the biggest events of its type in Europe.

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Thousands are music fans are expected to pack into the Grassmarket for the return of the jazz festival's hugely popular 'Mardi Gras' event.

The jazz and blues extravaganza will be the first of Edinburgh's big summer events to be staged this year after organisers of the film festival decided to move its dates back to August for the first time in 15 years.

The jazz festival will stage shows in George Square Gardens across its ten days, as well as the Festival Theatre, the Assembly Hall on The Mound, the Roxy and the Jazz Bar.

Organisers of the jazz festival are promising to bring ‘a taste of New Orleans’ back to the Grassmarket, with a three-hour Mardi Gras on Saturday, July 16, which will feature acts like After Hours, Brass Gumbo and Dopesick Fly.

More than 1,000 performers are expected to take part in the Edinburgh Festival Carnival on Sunday, July 17.

The Grassmarket will be hosting the jazz festival's Mardi Gras event in July.

Musicians and dancers from Costa Rica, Trinidad, Zambia, the United States, South Africa, the Netherlands, Martinique and France are expected to parade from the top of The Mound to the west end of Princes Street between 1pm and 3pm.

West Princes Gardens will then be transformed for three hours of free entertainment from musicians, dancers and circus performers.

Organisers of the jazz festival say a mini-carnival will also be staged at the Goodtrees Neighbourhood Centre in South Edinburgh on July 16, with other out-of-town events planned in the likes of Oxgangs, North Merchiston, Leith, Currie, Granton and Drum Brae.

Festival favourites Jools Holland, Curtis Stigers, Blind Boy Paxton, Soweto Kinch, and Davina and the Vagabonds will all be staging headline shows this year.

The Edinburgh Festival Carnival will return on 17 July. Picture: Jon Savage

Other international guests include John Scofield, Ambrose Akinmusire, Mud Morganfield, Nubya Garcia, Daniele Raimondi, De Beren Gieren and David Blenkhorn.

The festival’s “Scottish Jazz Expo” showcase will feature Fergus McCreadie, Ali Affleck, Colin Steele and Martin Kershaw, Richard Glassby, kitti, Conor Smith and Matthew Kilner.

Jazz festival chair Jason Rust said: “I’m delighted that the festival is back with a programme that offers something for everyone at iconic venues across the city.

“I’m proud to see us celebrating the history of the artform in Edinburgh while supporting the brightest and best young talent in Scotland.

The Edinburgh Festival Carnival will return for the first time in three years this summer open on the opening weekend of the jazz festival.

"I’m also thrilled that we will continue to build on the hard work of the past two years by presenting a new digital hub which will stream concerts online for those who cannot attend in person.”

Scottish culture minister Neil Gray said: “The festival's safe return to a packed ten-day festival of music at venues across Edinburgh is an exciting moment for the sector and for audiences.

“I’m proud that £120,000 of support from the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund will allow the festival to stage world premieres and new collaborations, and support young musicians as they take their first steps onto the international stage.”

More than 800 performers will take part in the Edinburgh Festival Carnival when it returns for the first time in three years this summer.
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