THE North West had the feelgood factor over the Bank Holiday weekend as tens of thousands of revellers were jumping and jiving at the City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival.
Now in its 18th year, the festival welcomed both new acts and new audiences, securing its reputation nationally and internationally as a musical event not to be missed and reinforcing Derry as a top cultural destination.
Hundreds of performances took place from Thursday, May 2 until Monday, May 6, including 80’s icon Marc Almond headlining on Friday night, with streets, squares and venues all over the city filled with everything from jazz and blues to swing and rock.
As well as full houses at dozens of the city’s bars and restaurants, overnight accommodation in many local hotels and guesthouses was at full capacity, as visitors checked in to enjoy all the late night acts included in the jazz festival programme.
During the five days, around 70 venues played host to more than 200 live acts to packed audiences.
Alongside international stars such as Marc Almond and festival favourites Gay McIntyre and the Jive Aces, there were a host of new acts performing this year – Mr Wilson’s Second Liners, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Motown Gold and Kitty La Roar, to name but a few.
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor John Boyle said he was delighted to see the city so vibrant over the five-day festival, and has praised the event organisers.
He said: “You don’t have to be the world’s biggest jazz fan to enjoy the jazz festival which showcases all that is wonderful and unique about Derry.
“It was a joy to take in all the entertainment on offer, indoors and outdoors, and see so many people out and about taking advantage of the enormous array of world-class acts playing in so many venues.
“Everywhere you went the atmosphere was incredible, with the music lifting the spirits of all who stopped to listen, whether they were out shopping, eating or just there to soak up the sights and sounds of what was going on over the bank holiday weekend. Where else would you want to be?
“Credit to the organisers who went to such lengths to ensure the festival was bigger and better than ever, as well as to all the local people and businesses who came out to support it and who welcomed the many visitors.
“Well done also to all the acts who put on such amazing performances. An added bonus this year was the involvement of so many young people through Youth 19 and it was a treat to hear their talents.
“Finally a word of praise to the sponsors – the Festival is supported by the Youth 19 programme – delivered with support from the Peace IV programme, the Big Lottery Fund, and the North West Regional Development Fund – Diageo, and Tourism NI – who help make it all happen.”
Aeidin McCarter, Head of Culture, at Derry City and Strabane District Council said: “The Jazz Festival has once again been an outstanding success story in our festival calendar and showcased Derry to music lovers and many more.
“The city’s reputation as a place of song is reignited each May bank holiday weekend with the wealth of talented individuals and groups who entertain the hordes of visitors who flock to the city each year for the event, bringing a boost to businesses and the local economy.”