Sidmouth Jazz & Blues Festival


The dedicated and passionate team behind the Rye International Jazz and Blues Festival recently presented a hugely successful second year sister festival in Sidmouth, East Devon.

The sun shone down on the town of Sidmouth on the late May bank holiday 2023, and it was buzzing. This year’s Sidmouth International Jazz and Blues Festival was a triumph. Event founder Ian Bowden and his team, Vicki, Kate and all the volunteers, built upon last year’s success and produced four days of amazing, crowd-pleasing music. Local people came in droves and enjoyed free music each afternoon in Blackmore Gardens.

On four consecutive evenings there were concerts featuring Curtis Stigers, The Brand New Heavies, Mud Morganfield, and Courtney Pine. The audiences lapped it all up, dancing in the aisles and clapping along. The atmosphere was electric.

An event like this does not happen without meticulous planning and sheer hard graft. Ian and his team energised the local businesses who supported the event wholeheartedly and sponsored many events. The whole town came together as one and, combined with Ian’s enthusiasm and dedication to music, the whole four days went off splendidly. As people were leaving after the concerts all you could hear was how much they had loved it all.

Sidmouth Jazz Festival

Christopher Holland, Sidmouth’s town clerk, talked about how the festival had come about and the effect it has had on the town: “During the dark days of the pandemic lockdowns, a festival organiser contacted Sidmouth Town Council about running a high-quality international jazz and blues festival in the town. For a town that relies on a vibrant tourism economy, it was perfect timing to help revive the economy of a pandemic-hit community.

“Turn the clock forwards three years and we’ve now had two incredibly successful festivals which have provided an excellent all year-round effect on the economy. Growing in 2023, this professionally run event has helped more people than ever to experience quality music in the beautiful setting of the Devon town of Sidmouth.

“Encompassing many smaller venues, using pubs, cafés, restaurants, and halls as well as the main stage in the beautiful Blackmore Gardens, the event sets out to create a vibrant musical atmosphere throughout the town and succeeds in bucket loads!

“From pubs putting on events as part of the festival to street music and the local concessions offered at the main stage in Blackmore Gardens the town has been buzzing. The festival offers free daytime music and ticketed evening shows, achieving a perfect balance for people of all means to enjoy.

“This festival has had the support of me as town clerk and the town councillors from the first time the organiser brought his idea before a council meeting.

“Working with the professionally minded, hard-working team the local council has ensured that the festival runs by the book. We saw the potential that the idea offered for quality entertainment in a beautiful town for all to enjoy.

“Why wouldn’t you support that? It’s been quite a journey from those cold days of lockdown meetings outside to 2023 but the festival is now firmly part of the Sidmouth calendar of high-quality annual events. Here’s to 2024!”

Indeed, here is to 2024 because Ian will be back with his amazing team and his volunteers who are so generous in giving so much of their time to make the event the roaring success that it is.

How exciting to think that Rye’s International Jazz and Blues Festival is not too far away now, August bank holiday weekend, so get it in your diaries.

Tickets go on sale for the headline acts on Monday, June 12 at 10am and can be purchased from the festival website at

Image Credits: Kt bruce .

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