Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 11.15.11The Great North Big Band Jazz Festival returns to the University of Sunderland for the 13th successive year with a record number of performers signed up.

Staged at the University of Sunderland’s North Shore Venue at St Peter’s, a record 32 big bands with 700 performers will this year be raising the roof of the venue, during the weekend of March 4-6.

The Festival will open on Friday evening at 8pm with a big band concert featuring the leading North East Big Band “Musician’s Unlimited”, directed by renowned musician Mick Donnelly.

The evening will also feature the Festival Big Band, whose programme will include the first public performance of new work by young jazz composers in the region.

On Saturday, from 11am, 14 senior bands will perform in a competition in the Open Section on stage. This will be followed by an evening concert, from 7pm, featuring three of the winning bands.

On Sunday the Festival continues from 11am when nine school bands from across the country will perform, followed by the youth section at 4pm with a further seven bands.

Commenting on the record entry this year, Festival Director Bill Watson said: “With more than 600 musicians taking part over the weekend, we are looking forward to another exciting and outstanding Festival this year.”

It is estimated that over the years the festival has attracted over 200 bands, with more than 4,000 performers playing to well over 10,000 people on the banks of the Wear, making it now the largest Big Band Festival in the UK held under one roof.

Admission to all sessions of the Great North Big Band Jazz Festival costs £10 for the weekend (children under 16 years free) and are available at the door throughout the Festival.

Free parking is available at the venue as well as a licensed bar and food.