An average of €300,000 per hour will be spent in Cork this weekend as the 41st Guinness Jazz Festival gets into full swing.
The festival, which has defied recessions, bank collapses and social changes, will attract more than 50,000 fans to Cork as it vows to continue to rival landmark jazz events such as those in Montreal and New Orleans.
Organisers insisted the festival’s ability to adapt, embrace varied musical styles and remain relevant have helped make it one of Ireland’s most successful and longest running events.
More than 1,000 musicians from around the world have flocked to Cork for a festival which was founded in 1978 and yet remains hugely popular.
The 2018 festival runs until October 29 – with musicians confirmed to attend from more than 20 countries.
Cork’s very own Paul Dunlea will be the inaugural ‘artist in residence’ for the festival.
The stars taking part this year include China Moses, Laura Mvula, Blind Boys of Alabama, Nnenna Freelon, Stanley Clarke, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble and The Maria Schneider Orchestra.
This year, the festival will also include a ‘Dia De Los Muertos’ or Parade of the Walking Dead as well as the hugely popular plaza open air jazz sessions.
Guinness Jazz Festival director, Sinead Dunphy, said Cork now aims to copper fasten its reputation alongside such legendary jazz events as Montreal and New Orleans.
“We aim to grow the festival so that it emulates the success of those major international festivals,” she said.
“This will ensure that Cork continues to be the home of jazz in Ireland and one of the most important arts festivals in the world.”
Guinness became associated with the festival in 1982 and, from humble beginnings with just a handful of venues and around 100 musicians, it has established itself as one of the world’s great jazzspectaculars.
The festival now offers a remarkable €35m boost to the Cork economy.
In keeping with tradition, more than 95pc of the sessions in 60 Cork pubs, hotels and clubs will be free to the public.
There was also a programme of street performances and open air concerts to broaden the community appeal of the festival – and to persuade people to spend time in Cork city.
Hotel and guesthouse bookings are estimated to be running at up to 10pc above last year’s festival – though there were concerns Brexit and the Sterling exchange rate could impact on UK visitors.
The venues this year include Cork Opera House, Cork School of Music, the Everyman Palace, the Metropole Hotel and the Triskel Arts Centre as well as almost 100 pubs and clubs across Cork, Kinsale, Blarney and other towns.
“Since its inception more than 30 years ago, the people of Cork have warmly welcomed in excess of one million visitors to the festival which has been a fantastic showcase for the city and county,” a festival official said.
“Long may that continue to be the case.”