Preston is really going to town with its Caribbean Carnival this month. Up till now it has been a one-day affair, but the historic Lancashire town can’t get enough of the vibes and this year the Caribbean celebration will be filling the whole weekend – Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 June.
Just two months ago such a happy outcome hardly seemed possible – in fact, Preston Carnival was on the verge of complete cancellation. Withdrawal of council funding brought the 44-year-old celebration to its knees, but an 11th-hour announcement that the Arts Council of England had approved its grant application saved the day. The Foyle Foundation, Turtle Bay restaurant and accountants McDade Roberts also provided funding and sponsorship.
The festivities kicked off on Saturday 2 June with a four-hour long warm-up session in the Flag Market, including the Carnival King and Queen competition and dance performances by Isle of Harmony, Aspire and Spectrum. There was also steelpan from the Pancake Steel Band, soca from Terrah Dan and DJ Toro, aka D’ Mad Bull of Soca.
The action moves to Moor Park from midday on Saturday 9 June when 10 sound systems playing the best in soca, calypso, reggae, dub and roots will be competing for attention. In addition to local attractions such as Preston’s Government Sound there will be nationally known names like King Tubby’s, Gladdy Wax, Manchester’s Megatone (celebrating their 40th anniversary) and a guest set from Sisters of Reggae. Tickets are available from Skiddle.
The mas movement starts at midday on Sunday, when the carnival procession heads out of Moor Park Avenue and heads down Deepdale Road, North Road and Garstang Road. Masqueraders will arrive at Moor Park in good time in time to catch the stage acts – including soca artistes Scrappy and Lutenants – plus DJ Quickdraw, from 1.30pm until 7.30pm.