Festival carnival procession for Princes Street

A  vast range of costumes and puppets from 17 countries will parade along Princes Street. Picture: Rob McDougall
A vast range of costumes and puppets from 17 countries will parade along Princes Street. Picture: Rob McDougall
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A MAJOR festival parade will return to Princes Street for the first time in six years this summer with a spectacular carnival procession featuring fire jugglers, street theatre and 100 drummers.

Organisers of the Edinburgh Festival Carnival are promising their biggest show yet with more than 700 performers snaking down the length of Princes Street from the Mound to the West End.

The event promises to be a dramatic and colourful curtain-raiser for the Festival season. While it is not expected to draw crowds on the same scale as the old Cavalcade, which attracted up to 250,000 spectators, big crowds are expected to line Princes Street on Sunday, July 20.

And rather than simply watching on the sidelines, city residents are invited to take part in the spectacle alongside the professional performers, with a range of costume-making, music and dance workshops being staged throughout July.

The festival carnival, now in its third year, will once again take over Princes Street and Princes Street Gardens with a potent mix of live music, sequined dancers, feathered costumes, circus performers and street theatre.

But the parade from the top of the Mound to the West End of Princes Street is an ambitious addition to this year’s programme. Princes Street will be closed to all traffic for the half-hour parade, which will see carnival favourites Kalentura lead over 100 live drummers, 200 international musicians, 150 circus and fire performers and a vast range of costumes and puppets from 17 different countries including South Africa, Zambia and the Bahamas.

Last year’s carnival attracted 17,000 spectators on one of the hottest days of the year. The free event, supported by Edinburgh City Council, takes place from 2pm-4.30pm.

Councillor Steve Cardownie, the council’s 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. This will herald a lively parade and superb day out for the start of the festival.”

Roger Spence, producer of the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival which runs the Carnival, said: “Princes Street and the Gardens were brimming with colour and music for our Carnival last year, and we were delighted with the attendance and positive feedback for our second year. It was such a pleasure for us and for the many people who supported the event to have that special party atmosphere. 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 – on July 20.”

The parade will run from 2pm to 2.30pm, before dispersing into the Gardens and the Grassmarket for an afternoon of live performances and workshops, and a full line-up of entertainment at the Ross Bandstand. Stalls will also serve up tastes of the world.

kaye.nicolson@edinburghnews.com