Huge free events to kick off Jazz & Blues Festival

Four images of crowds and performers at the Mardi Gras and Festival Carnival

Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival will start with a bang on its opening weekend, with two major public events - both in the open air and both completely free! 

The Festival runs from 15 to 24 July, opening on Friday 15 July with a range of great gigs including an appearance from Curtis Stigers, before the weekend's events get underway. 

Three images of crowds and performers at the Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras 

First up on Saturday 16 July comes Mardi Gras, a fantastic celebration of great jazz and blues music filling Edinburgh's Grassmarket with one massive party across four stages. 

Acts from Durban, South Africa and the home of jazz, New Orleans itself, will perform alongside Scottish acts to keep the energy up and the mood joyous. The full lineup includes: 

  • Top Scottish funksters, James Brown Is Annie (pictured above, right)
  • Charlotte Marshall & The 45s, offering retro blues-soul-funk with sultry, sleazy vocals
  • New Orleans Brass Band, James Williams’ Acoustic Mardi Gras
  • Spirits of Rhythm bringing authentic and hot traditional music from the Big Easy
  • The youthful St Aidan's Swing Band, a 14-piece jazz orchestra playing the classics
  • Afro jazz and township rhythms direct from South Africa with Durban Music School
  • Rosie Nimmo & Stuart Allardyce delivering smouldering jazz/blues vocals and guitar
  • Floor-raising funk, modern jazz and hiphop from Jazz-fusion collective, Jambouree 

The Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival Mardi Gras takes place in Edinburgh's Grassmarket from 1-4pm on Saturday 16 July. The event is free and unticketed. 

Three images of brightly costumed performers at the Festival Carnival


Sunday 17 July sees another afternoon of high energy fun, with the vibrant colours and infectious rhythms of the Edinburgh Festival Carnival. 

Dancers, acrobatic street performers and band after brilliant band will parade down Edinburgh's Mound and westward along Princes Street before turning into Princes Street Gardens for more performances. 

Look out for giant puppets and incredible costumes as over 700 carnival performers from Scotland and across the world (including China, Spain, South Africa, the Netherlands, Portugal and Italy) show off their skills. 

The Edinburgh Festival Carnival takes place in central Edinburgh from 2.30-5pm on Sunday 17 July. The event is free and unticketed. 

Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival runs from 15-24 July and tickets for all events are on sale. Find out more about the Festival, including links to programme and ticketing details.

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