Sheffield’s Music In The Gardens in full bloom - VIDEO

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THE CROWDS were in full bloom at Sheffield’s Botanical Gardens as the sixth annual Music in the Gardens festival got underway, writes digital reporter Nik Brear.

VIDEO: Press the play button to watch our video report.

Blooming woinderful:  Sheffield University's Big Band entertain the crowds at the Music in the Gardens festival at Sheffield Botanical Gardens.

Blooming woinderful: Sheffield University's Big Band entertain the crowds at the Music in the Gardens festival at Sheffield Botanical Gardens.

The sun finally broke through the clouds as thousands arrived, with picnic blankets and folding chairs, to settle in for a night of swing.

Keith Peter’s Big Band kicked off the four-day festival as they took to the stage to welcome the crowd with a series of old favourites.

“The sun comes out for us every year,” said Keith, of Netheredge, whose band has headlined opening night for the past four years.

“It’s a deal we make when they book us - invite us back and we’ll bring the weather!

“I’m a Sheffield man myself and this is my favourite gig of the year,” he added.

“We’ve played in other festivals but this one is special to us and we’ll keep coming back as long as we’re asked.”

The festival, now in its sixth year, is the result of the combined efforts of the Rotary Clubs of Sheffield and last year it raised a staggering £45,000 for local charities.

This year the organisation is hoping to top the figure again with donations earmarked for Sheffield Children’s Hospital, Weston Park Cancer Charity, Help for Heroes and Shelterbox.

“It gets bigger and better every year,” said Roger Hart, chairman of the organising committee.

“We’re expecting well over ten thousand people over the course of the next four days.”

Festival go-er Sarah Bax and her partner Andy Connelly, both from Sheffield, took a break from making some moves on the grassy dance floor to tell The Star what they made of the event.

“It’s our first time here and we’re having a perfect night,” she said.

“We dance with a local swing dance company and we’re loving listening to some great music and dancing together.”

Andy agreed: “We can’t believe the turnout, we’re stunned by the number of people here - what a fantastic event!”

Music legend Paul Carrack, former Squeeze and Mike and The Mechanics frontman, will headline tonight’s concert while jazz musician Courtney Pine will be taking to the stage tomorrow. The festival finishes on Saturday night with The Sheffield Philharmonic.

“We’ve really pushed the boat out this year and we’re thrilled to have such superb acts with us,” said Roger, who started planning the festival last August.

“MY day started at 7.30am and I haven’t sat down once yet, but I’m walking on air. So many people have been up to tell me what a great night they’re having.

“I can’t ask for more than that.”

Tickets for the event can still be purchased from the Botanical Gardens shop.