The UK carnival season doesn’t end at 8.30pm on August bank holiday Monday, whatever west Londoners may believe. This Sunday, 3 September, carnival fans can enjoy steelpan, soca and mas in Kingston-upon-Hull, on the north-east coast; Kingston-upon-Thames, south-west London; and Thornton Heath, near Croydon.
The grandly titled Hull International Carnival will be opened by the Mayor at 1.45pm in Albion Street Car Park. The groups then pass along Waltham Street, King Edward Street, Victoria Square, Carr Lane and Alfred Gender Street, ending up at Queens Garden Fountain.
In pride of place at the front of the parade will be New World Steel Orchestra, which will play in front of the Town Hall statue. Scrappy will be keeping the soca vibe on the road, but there will also be Brazilian samba and the sounds of India, Sudan and Somalia, so it’s a sort of world music festival on the move.
You can’t have a carnival without mas, of course, and visitors to Hull can expect to see costume and dance from the city’s Afro Caribbean Centre, Hull Carnival Arts and, all the way from Luton, Rampage Mas Band. There’s even an ‘open section’ where anyone can take part in costumes donated by Steve Elliot. There’ll also be a chance to see the banners created in workshops led by carnival artists from the Bahamas.
Kingston Carnival brings a mix of music – we’re promised soca, reggae, bhangra, jazz and funk to the stage in the Market Place until 7pm. Under the banner of ‘Uniting Communities. Making Friends. Having Fun’, the carnival groups set off at 12pm from the Guildhall and wind their way through the town centre.
The past two years’ carnivals were highly successful, which will have encouraged organiser Kingston Race and Equalities Council. When local police and council officials overreacted to fears of overcrowding and public order, KREC was forced to cancel the 2014 event at short notice. The doubts resurfaced this year when the Arts Council turned down KREC’s funding bid. Fortunately, Kingston Council – which is hoping to win the London Mayor’s new London Borough of Culture title rescued the popular event with a £7,500 cash injection on Thursday.
Thornton Heath High Street comes alive between midday and 6pm with the Thornton Heath Festival. Like Kingston, the suburb is determined to celebrate the diversity of its population. A council poll found the event to be the most popular festival in the Borough of Croydon.
As well as a carnival procession, featuring masqueraders from Flagz Mas Band, you’ll be able to hear soca star Triniboi Joocie and One The Band, plus several other singers, dance groups and bands. All the other festival favourites will be there – food stalls, fairground rides and children’s activities.
According to festival vice-chair Cllr Callton Young OBE, “A lot of exceptionally good talent is coming out of Thornton Heath at the moment.”