The Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival runs from 14 - 23 July 2023.
The roots of the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival
The brainchild of Edinburgh guitarist and banjo player Mike Hart, the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival launched in 1978.
Originally focused on traditional jazz, with several free performances taking place in the city's live-music-friendly pubs, the festival has since grown into a hugely successful and world-renowned event. Today, it also features a more diverse range of styles, including funk & hip-hop and a diverse range of Blues music with performances taking place in the city’s the grandest concert halls and venues.
Held over 10 days and with over 170 performances a year EJBF is today one of the largest jazz festivals in Europe.
Jazz, blues and beyond - big names, local heroes and shooting stars
Fans at the 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 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 make 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, timber tents... and a rugby club!
This diversity in music is echoed in the festival's various venues, from the cosy intimacy of the Jazz Bar on Edinburgh's Chambers Street to the vast grandeur of the Edinburgh Festival Theatre.
The festival also comes to beloved city venues both permanent and seasonal, like the Queen's Hall, the Spiegeltents in George Square and St Andrew Square, the 17th century Tron Kirk, multi-arts venue Summerhall and even Heriot's Rugby Club.
Bringing the party to the streets
Probably the festival's best known events though take place in the open air, with two huge extravaganzas offering free entertainment to the thousands who come to watch over the opening weekend.
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 hundreds-strong cast of performers from across the globe as they parade in their remarkable costumes, perform amazing acrobatic feats and sing, dance, clap, play and generally party their way along the road.
The parade then turns off the road into the lush surroundings of Princes Street Gardens, with performers thrilling crowds both here and in the nearby Grassmarket.
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.
This page was created in collaboration with our friends at Festivals Edinburgh.
Edinburgh has a jam-packed festival schedule all year around. Whether you love the arts, are mad about science, or relish the thought of getting lost in a good book, there’s a festival for you. Take a look at our guide to Edinburgh’s Festivals >