RECORD crowds are set to make this year’s Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival the biggest and most popular in its 35-year history.
Producer Roger Spence predicted that up to 60,000 fans will flock to the ten-day event – 10,000 more than last year, which was the most well-attended festival to date.
The scale of the event is also larger, featuring more than 140 concerts across 13 venues, with Van Morrison, Jools Holland and Bill Wyman all headlining.
Mr Spence said: “Last year we had the largest attendances and the biggest sales in our history, so our expectancy is that the number of people coming will increase again this year.”
The event, running from Friday, July 18 to Sunday, July 27 will be Commonwealth-themed as it will be the only festival operating at the same time as the 2014 Games in Glasgow.
And because this is this centenary of the First World War, the festival will also explore the connection between conflict and Europe and the birth of jazz.
Festival chairman Brian Fallon said: “This is the most ambitious programme, building on our record sales and attendances last year.”
Venues across the Capital, including the Festival Theatre, the Queen’s Hall, the Mash House and the Tron Kirk will play host to jazz and blues talent from all corners of the globe.
Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Edinburgh’s Jazz and Blues Festival is the UK’s longest running jazz festival and continues to go from strength to strength.
“Once again the festival brings together talent from all over the world to celebrate the history of jazz, as well as new music coming from Scotland.
“This year’s programme is especially timely, celebrating as it does both the enduring links of the Commonwealth and the wider cultural impact of the First World War.”
The festival will showcase jazz legends, blues greats and never-before-seen acts at the Edinburgh First Stands, plus collaborations between Scottish and international performers. This year’s festival opens on Mandela Day and will mark this with a concert featuring three musical acts from South Africa.
A carnival on Sunday, July 20 will see Princes Street Gardens filled with costumes, music and dance.
Sunshine on packed Leith
LEITH Walk has the highest population density in Edinburgh – and one of the highest in Scotland. One resident, Muriel Farrell, 73, of McDonald Road, said there were too many people and it was becoming difficult to get a doctor’s appointment.
Angela Crolla, owner of Taste of Italy, close to the top of Leith Walk, said there had been an upsurge in people aged between 20 and 40 with few dependents, good jobs and money to spend. Ross McCulloch, 37, owner of a salon on Leith Walk, said people were drawn to the area because of affordability and a cosmopolitan feel.
Estate agents confirmed rental properties are often snapped up within days of being advertised. The News has revealed services in the area – such as GP practices and schools – are creaking due to soaring demand.