Blackpool’s free jazz and blues festival will return next year – and will include an outdoor vintage fair in St John’s Square, its organiser has today revealed.
Hundreds of people attended the last event, held inside the Winter Gardens over two days in April, and benefitting the Trinity Hospice in Bispham.
Organiser and creative director Stephen Pierre said he was ‘pleased to confirm’ next year’s festival will be held on July 1 and 2, 2017, and will see the return of local legends The Wyre Levee Stompers among others – as well as other acts from across the country.
Mr Pierre, who owns the Galleon bar on Abingdon Street, said he also wants to showcase classic cars, motorcycles, old buses, and vintage artefacts in the town centre square, alongside a small stage.
He said: “Blackpool has the capacity to attract a wider demographic. Music festivals are a great way for the town to develop a better arts and culture reputation.
“It was a cultural breakthrough to see the last two festivals well attended. We have proved the pessimists wrong, that the town can and should be staging events that can raise the bar.
“Blackpool has so much potential to be a heritage and cultural hot spot. Regretfully, over the past two decades or more, the town has fallen behind in comparison to other towns and cities that were once less prosperous.
“Organising, sponsoring, and presenting the first jazz and blues festival in Blackpool in more than 25 years was courageous, optimistic, and in some folks’ eyes a risky ploy.
“I did it because, fortunately, I had the contacts and the respectful support shown from those that mattered.”
Mr Pierre, who has previously spoken of his hopes to bring a ‘Broadway to Blackpool’ event to St John’s Square, which has undergone an extensive renovation in recent years, said he is now working with the town’s BID team and management at the Winter Gardens.
He confirmed next year’s event will be free to enter, and will again benefit Trinity Hospice. A full programme will be ready by August, he added.
“The past two years have proved fruitful due to the sheer support and camaraderie offered from musicians and the like-minded,” he said.
“Next year will see further graduates attending from Manchester, Leeds, and London music academies.
“While I’m keen to keep the festival ethos as a community project, I’m also aware that inviting young music talent from the country’s leading aspiring graduates is keeping the art of contemporary jazz fresh and inventive.
“I would like the festival to be appreciated as a destination event on a national and European level. I would like to offer my personal thanks to everyone who has helped or attended the past two festivals.
“If you have realistic aspirations, little should be considered beyond the reach of possibility.”