By Robert Lattibeaudiere
Historically on the August Bank Holiday, all the press attention usually goes to Notting Hill Carnival in London. But it’s important to remember that Leeds Carnival was the first of its kind not only in the UK but in the whole of Europe. It is the longest running Caribbean carnival parade in Europe. A proud fact for Leeds and especially for one of the founders that helped start the carnival in 1967, Arthur France. It is now the biggest carnival outside of London.
The organisers promised big things this year and they didn’t disappoint! With an estimated 2,000 dancers bringing their colour, flair, and fun through the streets followed by tens of thousands of revelers. By dinner time the park itself was a hive of activity with fairground rides and bouncy castles playing host to families with their children and an array of food and gift stalls spread throughout the park. The hills overlooking the main stage where filling up with people waiting to see the dancers and generally having a great time in the sun.
The police had blocked off more streets than ever before, initially for safety concerns with the recent terror attacks using vehicles, but it turned out to have an added bonus on the party atmosphere as the whole of the area turned into one big party playground.
One person that had been going for 42 years said it was the “biggest and best” one she had been to in that time. The fears of any trouble or terror attacks were obviously dismissed by people as thousands brought their children to watch the fantastic spectacle as the floats left the park around 2pm and wound their way through the streets of Harehills and Chapeltown.
Leeds is trying to achieve its goal of becoming the European City of Culture in six years’ time and it’s events like this along with a multitude of other events planned that it would be able to deliver if it succeeds.