The first weekend of the Edinburgh Jazz Festival, back in July, featured two outdoor events. First was the Mardi Gras, in the Grassmarket, followed the next day by the Carnival in Princes Street. These were both unexpected fun – unexpected because they didn’t really feature my kind of music. But fun they were, helped by exceptionally good weather.
The Mardi Gras had another advantage – beer, the pubs and restaurants that crowd along the Grassmarket doing great business. It was a lovely afternoon, wandering around in the crowd – the atmosphere was great.
There were a mixture of bands spread across four stages: blues musicians, New Orleans marching brass bands, tags bands – and (I think) a Taiwanese jazz band, played on traditional instruments – worth it just to hear the sound produced!
The Carnival the next day was on a different scale: along the length of Princess Street, and throughout Princes St Gardens as well, a wealth of marching bands, street dancers and performers from all sorts of styles and traditions gathered and performed. The choice was startling – so much to see! And everyone looked like they were having the time of their lives.
In part this was only possible because Princes St was closed down because of the on-going tram works. There is something joyous about being able to walk unmolested through streets that are otherwise busy: a feeling of reclaiming the street from the traffic. I doubt this will be possible next year – the work is complete, and I can’t imagine the council being willing to close the street down to enable it.
Which would be a real shame! Everyone seemed to have a great time. The mood was excellent, the dancers impressive, and the best infectious – and this is music I didn’t expect to enjoy!