Thousands enjoy Londonderry jazz festival

Heavy Beat Brass Band Image copyright DCSDC
Image caption The Heavy Beat Brass Band entertained the crowds in Guildhall Square

The City of Derry Jazz festival has been hailed a huge success despite disruption caused by two bomb alerts.

The five-day festival, organised by Derry City and Strabane District Council, attracted about 60,000 people to the city over the bank holiday weekend.

More than 50 venues hosted 300 performances.

Two gigs were cancelled on Friday evening after police received the bomb warnings.

Despite the disruption, Mayor of Derry Maolíosa McHugh said the festival was a "remarkable success."

He said hotels, B&Bs and guest houses were all at full occupancy.

"The Jazz and Big Band Festival is such a huge showcase for the city and a key highlight of our annual events calendar," Mr McHugh said.

"There was a thrilling atmosphere about the city centre all weekend, with our bars, venues, restaurants and shopping spaces packed with people enjoying the spirit of jazz that has taken over us all since last Thursday."

Image copyright ©Lorcan Doherty
Image caption Local schools and community groups also took part in the festival

The city hosted live performances from a range of local, national and international acts, including festival headline act Van Morrison.

Festival organiser Andrea Campbell said: "It has been a great weekend for all involved - with something for everyone.

"Attracting high calibre artists is very important to ensuring that the crowds continue to support the festival each year. I am pleased we have been able to achieve this, gain international recognition and help boost our local economy."

Two shows were cancelled on Friday evening after police received reports that bombs had been left at a garage and a hotel in the city.

PSNI Superintendent Gordon McCalmont said the caller used a recognised codeword associated with dissident republicans.

Image caption Police in Derry implemented a public safety operation in response to a bomb call

Police searches of both locations found nothing untoward.

"These reckless actions were clearly intended to cause significant disruption on a particularly busy Friday night," Supt McCalmont said.

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