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City left swinging as Jazz train leaves the station

02 May 2016

The city has been swinging to the beat of the City of Derry Jazz Festival this weekend as over 40,000 people took to the streets for the biggest musical extravaganza in the country.

From April 28th to May 2nd over 200 performers entertained the crowds at over 300 gigs throughout the five day event, with Godfather of Neo-soul Roy Ayers heading up the impressive line-up of talent.

The festival has been a major success with record numbers flocking to the city to enjoy the eclectic mix of jazz, soul, funk and rhythm and blues, and Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Councillor Elisha McCallion, said she was delighted at the fantastic turnout.

“There’s no doubt that Derry is the place to be for music lovers over the May Bank Holiday weekend. The atmosphere is just fantastic and I think you would struggle to find a more diverse music event anywhere in the world. The Jazz Festival is just as popular among the bands as the listeners and we have a dedicated following of artists who return time and again because they get such a warm reception.

“Once again we’ve seen upwards of 40,000 people out and about in the city over the weekend, and hotel occupancy was great this year – there wasn’t a bed to be had on Saturday night with accommodation at full capacity. The event has a major impact on the local economy and venues right across the city have benefitted from a big jump in business over recent days. It’s events like these which continue to boost the city’s reputation as a fantastic visitor destination.”

The streets were buzzing as music lovers pounded the Jazz Trail, with Jazz hubs Bennigans and the Playhouse among the bars, restaurants and public spaces which threw open their doors over the weekend. Jazz legend Roy Ayers got a rapturous reception in St Columb’s Hall where he and his band ‘brought the groove’ back to Derry.

Regular favourites the Jive Aces, Gay and Paul McIntyre, JayDee Brass Band, Velocity Brown and the Hot Rods and SkaBeats were among the more familiar faces on stage, and local fans were there in their thousands to welcome them back for another round of Derry hospitality.

Events organiser with Derry City and Strabane District Council, Andrea Campbell, said she was delighted that the Festival had been so well attended. “We spend all year planning the Festival and it’s so fantastic to see it all come together and the people here turning out in force once again to support it. Derry people are always ready to enjoy themselves, and the atmosphere over the weekend has just been amazing. It was great to see so many international visitors here enjoying the craic and seeing the city at its very best.

“We’ve had some great feedback from the local venues, and from the bands who we know love the Derry crowds. It’s been an amazing success – now it’s back to the drawing board to plan something even better for next year.”

You can see coverage of the weekend’s highlights, with some fantastic photos and videos, on the Jazz Festival Facebook Page www.facebook.com/DerryJazzFestival/