Leeds Carnival 2023. Photo Credit: Cris Collins Photography

Leeds West Indian Carnival 2023 review

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Bank Holiday Monday 28 August saw the streets of Harehills, Roundhay and Chapeltown transformed, as they reverberated with the infectious spirit of Caribbean culture for Leeds West Indian Carnival 2023.

Over its remarkable 57-year history, the carnival has gained a reputation for jaw-dropping costumes, irresistible tropical beats and mouthwatering culinary treats. Once again, the event brought smiles to faces young and old who were united with one purpose – to have fun and build memories to last a lifetime.

Themed Ready for the Road, the Yorkshire city’s carnival season was ushered in by the Pop-up Carnival on Saturday 16 August at New Briggate. The Royalty Carnival Show – a gathering of kings, queens, princes, princesses and soca monarchs – was held on Saturday 26 August at Leeds Playhouse. Hot on its heels came the Black Music Festival on Sunday 27 August at Potternewton Park.

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Monday’s festivities kicked off at the crack of dawn with J’Ouvert Morning in the lively Chapeltown district, setting the tone for an unforgettable day.

As the sun rose higher in the sky, spectators and revellers alike thronged the streets of Harehills, Roundhay and Chapeltown as the parade started its journey and meandered its way from Potternewton Park through streets that took on a decidedly Caribbean aspect. The air was heavy with the tantalising aromas of Caribbean cuisine from food vendors along the route.

Leeds West Indian Carnival was founded by St Kitts & Nevis-born Arthur France MBE who, along with Frankie Davis from Trinidad and Tony Lewis from Jamaica, held a carnival fete at what is now Leeds City College in 1966. The following year, with the help of another Trinidadian, Ian Charles, and others, Arthur took Carnival on to the road. In what must surely be a record, Arthur remains chair of the carnival committee and Ian its treasurer.

More details about the history of Leeds West Indian Carnival can be found at leedscarnival.co.uk/our-history.

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