Carnival Plans to Boost City Centre Presence

Organisers have announced plans to take the sights and sounds of Europe’s longest running Caribbean carnival to city centre audiences.
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Leeds Bid is delighted to support Leeds West Indian Carnival – an iconic, signature Leeds event which has contributed to raising the city’s profile for almost half a century. - Keith Ramsay, Leeds BID interim CEO

With just weeks until Leeds West Indian Carnival takes to the streets on August Bank Holiday Monday, organisers have announced plans to take the sights and sounds of Europe’s longest running Caribbean carnival to city centre audiences.

Thanks to funding from the Leeds BID and support from Leeds City Council a number of city centre focused initiatives will kick start on Saturday 15th August from 12:30pm to 2:00pm with Pop Up Carnival in the City on Briggate which will bring carnival colour to thousands in the heart of one of the UK’s most popular shopping destinations.

Carnival Founder and Chairman Arthur France commented, “The first Carnival parade in 1967 went from the streets of Chapeltown to Leeds Town Hall. With our 50th anniversary fast approaching we are working with a range of partners to look at sharing this Leeds gem with wider audiences by hosting more events in different locations and hopefully to see a return of the parade to the city centre in 2017.”

Following on from the popularity of 2014’s Pop Up Carnival appearances at the Grand Depart of the Tour de France and Scarborough Seafest, thousands of shoppers, visitors and spectators are expected to take in the 20 costumed troupe dancers, huge King and Queen creations and steel pan music from New World Steel Orchestra.

Building on last year’s Leeds City Council study which estimated that spectator spend at the Carnival parade contributed at least £2.7 million to the local economy, this year the Council will survey audiences at the pop up event, the King & Queen Show at West Yorkshire Playhouse and the Carnival parade.

The plans have also helped to build a new partnership with the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) – experts from the world famous Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, who will attend events over the carnival weekend and make recommendations for artistic programming and enhancing planned city centre presence.

NCBA President Mr. David Lopez said, “The National Carnival Bands Association is happy to be partnering with Leeds West Indian Carnival ahead of the 50th anniversary. Along with organisers of the Carnival in Leeds we share a passion for bringing people together and showcasing Caribbean arts and culture. We look forward to visiting such a great city, to joining this year’s celebrations and to sharing our expertise and involvement in Trinidad and Tobago the Real Carnival.”

Mr. France added, “Leeds Carnival will always have its roots and heart in the local communities who have worked so hard to bring the event to life. However, with a milestone anniversary and the city’s bid for European Capital of Culture just around the corner, we want to make sure that the residents, business sector and visitors alike can share in the harmony, pride and joy that Carnival brings to Leeds.”

Over 100,000 are expected to attend the annual carnival parade on Bank Holiday Monday 31st August and events in the lead up, including the Prince and Princess and Carnival King and Queen Shows, and the Soca Monarch calypso contest.

Details of all Leeds Carnival 2015 events are available at www.leedscarnival.co.uk on Twitter @CarnivalLeeds #LeedsCarnivalHappy or on 0113 307 0001.

(Image Credit: Andy Lord)