Birmingham’s live jazz festival goes ahead later this month

The Birmingham, Sandwell & Westside Jazz Festival is set to go ahead later this month.

The 36th annual festival will be held from Friday 16 to Sunday 25 October at a variety of venues in and around Birmingham, having been postponed from July due to the coronavirus pandemic.

All singers and musicians will perform behind a perspex screen separating them from the live audiences, to comply with the government’s Covid-19 guidelines,

As well as live performances there will also be a variety of other events, including a record session and jazz film show, while shows will be streamed live from West Bromwich Central and Wednesbury Libraries.

The Shufflepack will also be live streaming a performance from deep in The Chilterns to festival-goers sat in the comfort of the Brasshouse and the Bull’s Head pubs on Westside.

Festival director Jim Simpson said: “This is the third time this year we have constructed the festival. The July event, with more than 200 programmes planned, was floored by the virus.

“We then delivered a 10-day virtual festival over the dates originally planned for the annual event, and here we are with what promises to be a most welcome celebration of some great music.

“We’ve encountered a bunch of delays and diversions but we’re going to press ahead fully in the expectation of a great event.”

Other venues hosting festival shows range from the Birmingham Rag Market and Botanical Gardens to the Velvet Music Rooms and Water’s Edge Bandstand. Further afield, jazz fans can see performances at The Village, Moseley, and the Gracechurch Shopping Centre in Sutton Coldfield.

Since its debut in 1985, the festival has generated more than £80mfor the region’s economy, staging 6,755 performances – mostly for free – and attracted a total audience of almost three million people.

The jazz festival is part-funded by Westside Business Improvement District (BID).

Mike Olley, general manager of Westside BID, said: “We’re thrilled and proud that the jazz festival – with all the necessary safety measures – is finally going ahead. This will bring some extra spirit to Westside and other areas that will businesses with their efforts to continue emerging safely from COVID-19.”