Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival on street

Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival

Get into the groove and come along to the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival.

Presenting a super-charged line-up of the very best Jazz and Blues artists that the world has to offer, this lively festival will delight regulars and first timers alike.

The Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival runs from 12 to 21 July 2024.

Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival

The roots of the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival

Held over 10 days and with over 170 performances, Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival is today one of the largest jazz festivals in Europe.

Originally focused on traditional jazz, with several free performances taking place in the city’s live music pubs, the festival has since grown from its 1978 origins into a hugely successful and world-renowned event. Today, it also features a more diverse range of styles, including funk and hip-hop and a diverse range of blues music with performances taking place in the city’s the grandest concert halls and venues.

Big names, local heroes and upcoming stars

Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival looking down to stage

Visitors to this festival can now enjoy jazz in all its forms and flavours, with local musicians rubbing shoulders with exciting international acts, while hot new artists feature alongside established big names. It’s the same with blues, where artists from traditional Stateside hotbeds such as Mississippi, Chicago and Tennessee are joined by British blues stars and acts from around the globe.

Some of the biggest names to have played at the Festival include Van Morrison, Jools Holland, George Benson, Courtney Pine, Mud Morganfield, Mahotella Queens and Abdullah Ibrahim. But it’s not just the presence of the world’s top names which makes the festival what it has become – rather there is a focus on delivering musical excellence and creativity through strong local presence and some of the very best rising talents around.

As part of this, the festival has also earned a deserved reputation for featuring brilliant music from other related genres too, including soul, funk, hip-hop, swing, Latin, afro-beat, electronica and more.

Grand halls, cosy bars and tents

Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival stage

This diversity in music is echoed in the festival’s various venues, from the cosy intimacy of The Jazz Bar on Chambers Street to the vast grandeur of the Festival Theatre.

The festival also comes to several city venues both permanent and seasonal, like The Queen’s Hall, multi-arts venue Summerhall, St Bride’s Centre, the George Square Spiegeltent and the 17th century Tron Kirk.

Bringing the party to the streets

Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival street

Probably the festival’s best-known events though take place in the open air, with two huge extravaganzas offering free entertainment.

First up there’s the Mardi Gras in the capital’s Grassmarket area, where the spirit of New Orleans is well and truly transported across the pond for an afternoon of fantastic hot pumping jazz music. Crowds come in their thousands to be entertained by the sights and sounds of this fantastic party, and entertainment there most certainly is, with great acts and a number of stages at which to dance and sing along.

The following day sees an even bigger event, with the Edinburgh Festival Carnival winding its colourful way through the city centre. Throngs of people line the streets to see the hundred-strong cast of performers from across the globe as they parade in remarkable costumes, perform amazing acrobatic feats and sing, dance, clap, play and generally party their way along the road.

In the decades since it began, the festival has grown and thrived, and established itself as one of the best around. If you love music and love Edinburgh, then you need to come to the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival!

For details of this year’s programme, check the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival website

Top tip

Keep an eye on their website for smaller events throughout the year, including the Scottish Blues Weekend and Scottish Jazz & Blues Weekend.

Discover more about Edinburgh’s festivals

Edinburgh has a jam-packed festival schedule all year around. Whether you love the arts or are mad about science, there’s a festival for you.