Jazz festival chiefs step in to revive Capital cavalcade

The cavalcade will borrow from the jazz festival's Mardi Gras
The cavalcade will borrow from the jazz festival's Mardi Gras
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It was a much-loved event that heralded the start of Edinburgh’s festival season for 35 consecutive years.

But the Festival Cavalcade – the popular procession of bands and floats that gives revellers a free flavour of the performances being held across the city – was dropped last year following the sudden departure of the main organiser.

Now organisers of the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival have confirmed plans to revive the event and return it to Princes Street this summer.

However, the colourful spectacle, traditionally held on the first Sunday of the Fringe, will now take place nearly two weeks before the first show.

The cavalcade, which will now be known as the “Festivals Carnival”, is being moved forward to July 22 in order to take place on the first Sunday of the jazz festival.

Brian Fallon, chairman of the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, said: “We envisage it being a parade led by Harley-Davidsons and we have a number of bands from the UK, as well as international; street bands and brass bands, as well as samba bands.

“We are taking a lot on and we are delighted to do that but we would hope other festivals will support it as well. It will not be an Edinburgh jazz festival parade but a parade to open Edinburgh’s summer festivals.

“I think the Edinburgh public will respond to the cavalcade, and I’m sure they will turn out in their numbers.

“You are talking about a main event to kick off the Edinburgh festivals and I hope we can get things sorted out to have a great street festival.”

The board of the jazz festival agreed to take the lead on organising the parade, although council officials will provide assistance.

However, it is thought unlikely that the event will take the same form as previous cavalcades and the Harley-Davidsons are likely to be the only motorised vehicles in the parade, meaning an end to the floats that carry performers.

It remains to be seen whether it can attract similar audience numbers to the original cavalcade, which regularly attracted in excess of 150,000 spectators.

William Burdett-Coutts, artistic director of Fringe promoter Assembly Theatre, welcomed its return but admitted the number of people that take part may fall because of the new date. He said: “It is terrific that they want to revive it.

“Inevitably, it will lose some of the impetus of the shows that take part that are in the Fringe but it is still good to see it revived because it’s a great spectacle.”

The Cavalcade had not been held in Princes Street since 2008, after being moved to Holyrood Park in 2009 and 2010 because of tram works.

Steve Cardownie, the city’s festivals and events champion, said: “I’ve always felt that the parade was devalued when it left Princes Street but there is nothing like seeing the street throbbing with people.

“The parade is an event in itself and I’m sure people will have a great time and enjoy a real carnival atmosphere.”