Despite being one of the few countries that does not officially celebrate carnivals, the United Kingdom has incorporated some cultural, Caribbean or Latin American carnival events in some of its cities. In addition, it also has national events that have acquired carnival themes over the years. Many of the celebrations in theUnited Kingdom have become worldwide reference points for carnival festivities.
Here are the 15 best Carnivals in the United Kingdom.
The town of Woodley, located in Berkshire west of London, holds a carnival to raise funds for charity. The carnival has been present in the Woodley community since 1959, but it was not until 1969 that the organization of the carnival came to be carried out by a formal committee. The Woodley Carnivals focus on a family and community approach, as the purpose of the carnival is to contribute to the societies and charities of the area.
During the carnivals, the organization sets up a large carnival grounds where a large number of artists perform and shows are held. In addition, different tents of beneficiary organizations food fairs and general information stores about services and companies are also located. One of the biggest events of the carnival is the Grand Parade in which carrozas led by the residents themselves participate. In addition, several school groups also participate and perform dances and cheer up the public. During these parades, people will place in baskets a monetary contribution, which will go to the chosen charities.
Although it is a carnival festival, it is not celebrated during the traditional months, but during the month of June. The Woodley Carnival takes place on June 12th.
The Bishop’s Stortford Carnival is a family and communal celebration held in the town of Bishop’s Stortford, northwest London. The event includes all sectors of society in the town regardless of age. The carnival in the town has established itself as a community event, whose objectives are to strengthen the bonds of friendship between residents of the area and to contribute to various community organizations.
Despite being primarily a family and community event, it also features a large number of lively events. The town sets up a large venue where a good number of musicians perform, many of whom are from the town itself. In addition, the residents themselves can set up their own tents for sale, although there are also charity stalls, businesses, car shows, live music shows and food fairs. The most popular event is the Grand Carnival Parade. This parade features a large number of carrozas from residents, comparsas and highly popular samba dancers.
Despite being a carnival celebration, this is not held in the traditional months, but it takes place in the middle of the month of June.
The Carnival is held in thetown of Nuneaton in the central region of the United Kingdom. The carnival has been taking place in the town since 1930. The first time the carnival was held it was for the purpose of raising funds for beneficiaries and hospitals in the region. Like many other cities across the country, Nuneaton holds these types of community events to raise funds for the various charities. In addition, it is also an ideal tool for strengthening the bonds of residents, friends and family.
During the carnival celebrations, the city installs an enclosure to hold different events. In this space, different musical performances, playful games, food fairs, picnic areas and some workshops for children are held. In addition, there are inflatable bouncy houses and fairs of local crafts. The main event of the city is the great carnival parade where various floats and groups of residents participate.
The carroques that are presented at the carnival feature various themes, there is nothing previously set. This allows each resident to put into practice their creativity and can do something innovative and creative. The event also features musical bands, trucks with loudspeakers and comparsas that accompany the cars.
The Nuneaton Carnival will take place on June 13.
The Northampton Carnival is a celebration where some Caribbean traits predominate. However, it also offers spaces for family togetherness. Carnival is held in the commercial city of Northampton, located southwest of Birmingham. Carnival in the city has been celebrated with some intermittency and with significant changes in structure. However, the carnival has been a part of the city since 1914, with some floats taking part.
The celebration of the carnival has been carried out with the purpose of transmitting and preserving the different cultures, especially the Caribbean ones. The carnival has the participation of local schools, private organizations, charities and small and medium enterprises. In addition, carnivals in Northampton could be said to feature the celebrations on the streets and the celebrations at the fairgrounds.
The event that takes to the streets comprises traditional carnival activities, parades, floats, musical bands, music trucks, bands and carnival troupes of different genres. The carnival at the fairgrounds includes the various events such as concerts, food and craft fairs, workshops for children, shows and musical performances.
Northampton Carnivals are generally held during June.
The Isle of Wight has a carnival that fuses several elements of the world’s most famous carnival celebrations. Despite having unique aspects such as dances, troupes, art and street theater, the carnival has integrated the Mardi Gras celebration with Caribbean elements. The city of Ryde, the epicenter of the carnivals, is filled with a colorful atmosphere featuring big and ostentatious colorful and feather-covered costumes.
Each year, the carnival organization integrates a different theme to be implemented in the festivities. These themes are varied, as they may refer to the historical events of the island, economic activity of the country or some topic of general knowledge and collective interest. The event is an integral celebration, as it incorporates the different sectors of the island, including school groups and cultural groups. More than 1,000 people actively participate in the Ryde City Carnival Parades.
The Carnival or Mardi Gras of the Isle of Wight is an event that takes place with the help of the various sectors of the island. Around 30 schools, public and private organizations work for months to prepare all the elements that make up the carnival.
The Isle of Wight Carnival will take place on or around June 26.
The town of Whitley Bay in northeastern England has carnivals that were not held for more than 30 years, but returned at the request of residents. The town had held carnivals for several years. However, for more than 30 years the celebrations stopped completely. The carnival came back to life in 2015, when residents had stated that they wished to resume the celebrations in the streets of the city again. The carnivals have grown little by little, but progressively, counting 2,000 visitors in the first editions to count 20,000 in recent years.
The Whitley Bay Carnival lasts for two days full of events. The town takes advantage of being a coastal town to be able to boost the festivities and bring in a good amount of tourists each year. In addition to having several music, theater and street art events, playful games and food fairs, the city also organizes a big parade. The entire scenography of the carnivals, both the carrozas and the dresses are made with the help of local artists who actively participate in carrying out the carnival. In this way, the entire community contributes its grain of area to position the carnivals as a tourist attraction.
The Whitley Bay Carnival will take place from approximately May 28 to 30.
The town of Aldeburgh, located in the district of Suffolk in the east of the country, holds one of the most important family carnivals in the United Kingdom. The celebration in the city has been present since 1892 and held mainly family recreational and sporting events. The geographical location of the coastal city allows large numbers of sporting events to be held each year during the celebrations. The Aldeburgh Carnival was awarded the title of Norfolk & Suffolk Family Tourism Event in 2018 due to the great importance this imposes towards family togetherness..
The Aldeburgh Carnivals are held over 3 days, each operating under a different theme. On the first day, musical activities take place. The second day features events and activities exclusively related to sports, integrating boat races, egg races with spoons, swimming races and many other similar activities. Finally, on the last day there is the parade with local groups, dance groups, music bands and military bands. To close everything with a flourish, during the night there is a great fireworks show.
The Aldeburgh Carnival will take place from approximately August 14 to 16.
The Wells Carnival is part of a large conviction of celebrations occurring throughout the region. The town is located in the district of Mendip, Somerset, southwest England. This carnival is characterized by the use of illuminated trucks that travel throughout the district. The carnival first emerged in the year 1605, although these were celebrated in a completely different way. At first, the festivities were celebrated with large bonfires, then these bonfires changed to lamps and lanterns and finally modern lights began to be used.
Every year, large motorized trucks travel throughout the region visiting Somerset’s towns and villages. These trucks are one of the special hallmarks of the carnival, there is nothing quite like them. Each truck boasts monstrous proportions, some counting up to 30 meters in length and 5 meters in height. What stands out most about these amazing trucks are the thousands of little lights that adorn it, completely illuminating the structure and the road through which it travels.
However, the decoration of the trucks is not everything, as each truck has participants wearing costumes that resemble the theme of the truck. These people, in addition, entertain the public, performing some choreography or some pirouettes. Some of these trucks include several mechanisms that the participants can use to spin around themselves.
The truck parade will come to the city of Wells during the month of November.
The Carnival is held in thecity of Prestos located in Manchester. The celebration is a great commemoration to the Caribbean community residing in the city. In addition, it is also a vehicle of expression through music, dress and dancing. The carnival has been present in the city since 1972. The project arose from the Caribbean community who wanted to celebrate their traditional festivities as they are performed in their native countries.
The city becomes a complete festive atmosphere full of color and traditional Caribbean music. During the celebration, a royal court is chosen, composed of a King and a Queen of Carnival who will lead the parade. In addition, several places are set up with Caribbean food and stage where the various Caribbean music artists perform.
The main event of the festivities is the incredible parade. The parade is composed of several groupings that perform choreographies in the streets. All the pieces are accompanied by traditional Caribbean music or Latin American urban music. The costumes are one of the components that can not miss, being these full of color, large and completely covered with feathers and glitter.
The Preston Caribbean Carnival takes place during the month of August.
Leeds is a charming city located northeast of Manchester. The city has one of the most important Caribbean carnivals in the whole country, which receives every year around 100,00 people. These carnivals have been present in the city since 1967. The Carnival was the result of a project started by Caribbean immigrants who longed to bring the original Caribbean carnivals to the streets. Thus, Arthur France and two of his friends devised the celebration in 1966, and it was formally celebrated the following year.
The Leeds West Indies Carnival is one of the best representations of the Caribbean carnival in Europe. The event is held to commemorate the Caribbean community of the area and the region. In this way, the carnival integrates essential elements of Caribbean festivities such as soca music, a small J’ouvert and the great parade in colorful costumes.
Like a traditional Caribbean celebration, the Leeds carnival begins with an early morning event known as J’ouvert. People take to the streets to party with raucous music and a great festive atmosphere. That same day in the afternoon, the big colorful parade with the groups takes place. In addition, there are the characteristic costumes of Bandas Mas. The whole event is performed with traditional Caribbean music, attracting thousands of people to the streets.
TheLeeds West Indian Carnival will take place in August.
The city of Leicester is located in the central region of England, northeast of Birmingham. This carnival is one of the many cultural expressions that are carried out by part of the country’s Caribbean community. The carnival has been a part of the city since 1985. The event emerged as a celebration to commemorate the emancipation from slavery. Thus, several young people from the community came together to raise funds to hold the festivities.
The celebration is composed of various elements characteristic of the Caribbean carnival. Every year, a large carnival site known as the Carnival Village is installed in this place where the various musical events, performances of soca music and various recreational spaces are held. Likewise, the place has 5 stages where different musical environments are presented and people visit each point. In addition, the venue has several food stands and Caribbean crafts.
The parade is undoubtedly the main event of the entire carnival. The streets are filled with thousands of people in colorful costumes completely covered with feathers and glitter. All these people move in unison thanks to the incredible musical atmosphere that the bands and DJ’s arrange for the public. The whole parade is carried out with a great festive atmosphere and full of animosity, while floats and trucks with loudspeakers go through the streets.
The Leicester Caribbean Carnival is held on the first Saturday of August. The Leicester Caribbean Carnival takes place in late July or early August.
The Liverpool Brazilica Carnival or simply Brazilica is a Brazilian-style celebration that incorporates traditional elements of the original Brazilian carnival. In addition, it also has some elements of the traditional Caribbean carnival. Carnival is celebrated in the city of Liverpool and was first enhanced in 2008, when the city had been recognized as European Capital of Culture. Thus, the city decided to create this event to entertain tourists. However, the celebration grew so much that the city continued to hold the carnival and incorporated new elements.
The event features a great deal of entertainment that takes traditional Brazilian elements as its starting point. This is why, throughout the carnival, various groups perform samba performances. However, the event also integrates Caribbean cultural aspects such as reggae or soca. Likewise, the carnival also features an election of King and Queen of the carnival, who lead the parade once crowned.
The Brazilica carnival parade is a thrilling event. Several samba groups take to the streets in their characteristic colorful costumes, dance and entertain the public. In addition, dozens of bands and percussionists wear costumes or thematic costumes to set the whole scene. The Caribbean groupings also make a presence in the parade, dancing and playing traditional Caribbean music. The parade also features large and beautiful themed floats that accompany the groups.
The Liverpool or Brazilica Carnival takes place every year in July. It usually takes place between July and August.
Bridgwater Carnival is a large chain celebration that occurs in several towns and villages in the parish of Somerset, although the celebration is most strongly held in Bridgwater. This celebration has been taking place in the region since 1605 in inspiration of the Gunpowder Plot. In addition, the carnivals take the figure of Guy Fawkes as a reference, one of the main characters in the attempted Burning of Parliament..
This carnival is one of the most special in the whole country. The carnival has at least 40 floats completely illuminated by lights that travel through several cities in the region. These floats are far from simple, as they feature a particular theme and are completely covered in lights and have a length of up to 30 meters and about 5 meters high, occupying almost the entire street. In addition, each float has various members of the groups who wear themed costumes and entertain the spectators with some acrobatics or theatrical presentations.
The event that steals the show is a ceremony called “squibbing.” This event consists of holding characteristic fireworks in the shape of a cone into the air. In this way, thousands of incandescent sparks rise up into the sky and then delicately descend, creating a grandiose scene of brilliant rain. The event attracts around 150,000 people every year.
TheBridgwater Carnival will take place on approximately November 6, with the procession starting at 6pm.
The Luton International Carnival is one of the most important multicultural carnivals in the country, second only to the Notting Hill Carnival. The carnival is held in the town of Luton in Bedfordshire and was first held in the year 1976. The carnival began as a small celebration, even considered as a kind of fair. However, in the year 1998 it began to gain international recognition. Today, the carnival receives about 140,000 people every year. The carnival is carried out thanks to the collaboration of the government agencies of the city and the UK Centre for Carnival Arts, which is located in the same city.
These carnivals are intended to celebrate, commemorate and promote the cultural diversity found in the city. At the same time, it offers quality entertainment and music for all audiences. The event features the participation of dozens of groups from different origins and ethnicities, turning the carnivals into a true celebration of culture.
The main and most popular event is the grand parade. The parade can last several hours and runs through the main thoroughfares of the city. In addition, it has about30 groups, all of which are in full costume. These groups perform various presentations, whether they are incredible choreographies or simply cheering on the spectators. The parade also features several carriages and trucks that accompany the entire event with music and entertainment.
Luton International Carnival takes place during May, the Sunday closest to the Spring Bank Holiday.
The Notting Hill Carnival is the most popular Caribbean-style carnival throughout the country and all of Europe. The celebration is held in the capital of England, London. This celebration was first held in the year 1966. The Carnival came about as a means of protesting racist events towards the Afro-Caribbean community in the year 1958. These events resulted in 3 days of riots and hundreds of injuries and arrests.
Carnivals were at first small events in private venues. However, today it has become one of the largest street events in the whole country. The event mainly includes the Caribbean and Latin American community of the city; however, everyone is welcome to participate. The colorful activities, entertainment and music are the main attractions of the festivities.
One of the events that takes place at the event is the J’ouvert. This celebration is one of the most traditional throughout the Caribbean and represents the liberation of the Caribbean people after slavery. The event is usually held early in the morning, when people take to the streets with musical bands and to play with talc, dirt and paint. However, the most popular event of the festival is the Gran Desfile. This parade features the participation of several Caribbean and Latin American groups that go through the streets of the city dancing and showing off their colorful attire. In addition, there is also live entertainment, music and bands.
The Notting Hill Carnival is usually held at the end of August.