The Edinburgh Festival Carnival will take place this year on July 15 as part of the Jazz and Blues Festival, two weeks before the deluge of international tourists and performers flood the city in August. The wee carnival procession suits a capital with only half a million people. Now in its seventh year, having replaced the well-established Cavalcade that traditionally marked the start of the festival season, the carnival will see a parade of bands from all over Scotland and the rest of the world.
Although the Caribbean community resident in Edinburgh numbers less than a thousand, there’s normally a Caribbean presence or influence in some form or other. In 2014, there was a tassa band from Trinidad and a Junkanoo band from the Bahamas, who held a pop up mas camp and led some dance sessions to prepare participants. In 2016, Jonelle Cheri Caraballo, a finalist for Miss T&T UK 2016, brought a little flavour of Trinidad Carnival to Edinburgh in a costume designed by her mother, Gail Auguste. This year Edinburgh has its own mas camp (inspired by Brazil), and bands arriving from Trinidad (3Canal) and Martinique (Gwanaval).
This year, participants can do it all over again by taking advantage of the special coach to take them across to Carnival in Glasgow on August 4. Glasgow’s parade route runs through the city centre and Merchant City, and this year enjoys a special exchange with carnivalists from Berlin.
If you would like to experience a tiny but chilled Carnival in the UK, you might want to give Edinburgh a try. Attendance and costumes are free, the parade along Princes Street ends just below Edinburgh’s unique and spectacular castle, there’s plenty of space to free up – and you might just get a sunny day thrown in!