Derry's sweet to the beat as thousands turn out for the Jazz Festival
03 May 2022
The streets of Derry were swinging as tens of thousands of music lovers flocked to the City to enjoy an extravaganza of sounds as the 21st edition of the Jazz Festival took place over the weekend.
The five-day festival, which is one of the largest celebrations of Jazz in the country, was back with a bang after a two year break from live music due to the pandemic. The packed programme featured 417 musical performances from April 28th – May 02 across 70 participating venues.
While the final tally is yet to come in terms of visitor numbers, figures are expected to top those of previous years as music lovers flocked to experience the rich musical medley over the course of the weekend with workshops, dance classes, alfresco performances and even a Jazz Parade through the City Centre. Hotels were booked out on the busiest nights, with 99% occupancy on Saturday evening, and there was positive feedback from businesses with the surge in city centre footfall, as the music spilled into restaurants, bars and even street corners.
Looking back on what was a fabulous weekend for the City, Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Alderman Graham Warke, said the festival had lived up to all expectations. "The energy in the City Centre has been phenomenal this weekend and it has just been amazing to see so many visitors flocking to our hotels and hospitality venues. The festival is a real highlight for the local economy so I know the local business community is delighted to see it return in its usual format and to welcome visitors back through their doors to enjoy live music.
"I want to acknowledge all the work by Council and our partners in the business community to enable the delivery of such a fantastic event. It's a great start to the summer and we can all look forward now to the successful delivery of our Foyle Maritime Festival and the arrival of the Clipper Race fleet in July."
What makes the festival so special is that the majority of events are completely free, making the live music experience accessible to everyone. This year over 2,500 school children also took part in the Live Music Now workshop programme led by local jazz musicians John Leighton and Meilana Gillard, as part of the outreach work associated with the festival bringing jazz music to new generations. Local schools also had a key role performing on the Gay McIntyre outdoor stage in the Guildhall Square, a special tribute to the local Jazz legend who was sorely missed at the festival this year.
Head of Culture with Council, Aeidin McCarter, said the event had enjoyed a fantastic comeback. "We have so missed the Jazz Festival over the past two years and it was wonderful to be able to welcome back the many friends of the event who return year after year. The Jazz Festival wouldn't be possible without the buy in of the local business community who have really embraced the event and made it their own over the years, and this year the support has been phenomenal.
"2022 is an ambitious year for us in terms of programming and we have lots more to look forward to over the coming months. After such a challenging two years, it's just great returning to what we do best – providing top class cultural experiences and building our profile as an exciting and vibrant place to visit. It's good to be back."