THOUSANDS lined the streets of the city centre to watch the new Edinburgh Festival Carnival parade launch the summer arts season with an explosion of dance, drumming and circus acts.
Yesterday’s event, led by long-standing favourites Kalentura from the Netherlands, featured more than 100 live drummers, 200 international musicians and 150 circus and fire performers.
A truly global gathering, the march from The Mound to Princes Street’s west end drew artists from 17 different countries, including South Africa, Zambia, the Bahamas, Italy, Germany, Colombia and Costa Rica, as well as Scotland and across the UK.
The carnival is now in its third year and has become the key event in the launch of Festival season, with residents quick to praise it as the perfect curtain-raiser to August’s arts and music extravaganza.
Optometrist Madelene Horne, 35, from Shandon, came to see the parade with her niece, Charlotte, four, and said: “With the old cavalcade, you used to see Fringe shows, snippets of shows, whereas this is a lot more varied, with the dancers and so on. It’s a lot more colourful vibrant.
“It’s obviously well supported and I think it shows people the variety of shows that are coming to Edinburgh. I think it’s good for people to know that there’s a big festival happening here.”
Jennifer Leiper, 45, an administrator from Leith, said: “The drums, the music, the costumes, the colour, the acrobats – it’s hard to choose a favourite part. The whole atmosphere is just so vibrant.”
Among the acts participating were Artscape’s Youth Band from Cape Town, Junkanoo Commandos from the Bahamas, Barefeet from Zambia, Gwanaval from Martinique, Bombrando from Portugal and Edinburgh’s own Beltane Fire Society.
The parade has been hailed by city and festival leaders as a significant addition to the Capital’s arts calendar.
Speaking ahead of the event, Councillor Steve Cardownie, festivals and events champion, said: “Offering live song and dance from hundreds of musicians drawn from all corners of the globe, the Festival Carnival will bring the buzzing atmosphere of Mardi Gras to the streets of Edinburgh.”
Roger Spence, producer of the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, which runs the carnival, said: “With the addition of the Festival Parade this year, an ambitious and dramatic kick-off to events and a first for Edinburgh, the carnival is going to be bigger – and even better.”