Organisers of the 11th Belfast City Blues Festival are celebrating another hugely successful event.

Over last weekend 45 acts played over 60 gigs at 22 venues across the city – with attendance figures significantly increased.

Once again American Holidays and Visit The USA were on board as headline sponsors – and Festival Director Seamus O’Neill says without them the festival simply wouldn’t happen.

“Although we’re waiting to collate the official figures it looks as if we had around 22,000 people at the various gigs throughout the city, which represents an increase of around 5,000 on last year,” said Seamus.

“The weather was mostly very good, which really contributed to the atmosphere, particularly the Blues On The Boat Music Cruises.

“I’d just like to personally thank all of bands and artists who performed between Friday and Tuesday and to everyone who attended the gigs.

“Belfast has such a fantastic blues heritage so it’s great that the festival affords so many people the opportunity to celebrate that.

“It’s a wonderful event for both locals and tourists and makes a significant contribution to the local economy.”

Tony Villiers | The Black Box, Picture by Terry Hanna

Pat McManus, who played at the ‘A Taste of Rory’ gig at the Black Box on Saturday afternoon, has been a regular performer and top draw at the festival.

“For me this is a very special place to play. Belfast has one of the best reputations for blues and blues bands. Without the help of Belfast we wouldn’t have had the likes of Rory Gallagher, Van Morrison and Gary Moore.

“So for me to come to this event and play every year is an honour and long may it continue,” said the former Mama’s Boys guitarist.

Also on the bill on Saturday afternoon were local musicians who make up the Willie Byrne Band and Blackwood.

Kick The Bucket Blues Band | The Harp Bar, Picture by Terry Hanna

Visiting from London this year was the highly acclaimed Robin Bibi Band, who performed throughout the weekend at The Hudson, The John Hewitt and The Northern Whig.

Bibi is one of the UK’s top blues/rock guitarists having paid his dues working with such names as Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and Ben E. King.

Other local artists who took part included Rab McCullough, Speedy Mullan, The Reverend Doc, and Willie Byrne as well as The Red Hot Roosters, Tony Villiers & The Villains and The Lee Hedley Band.

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