Learn the secrets of the carnival

Learn the tricks of the carnival trade at the special Edinburgh workshops. Picture: comp
Learn the tricks of the carnival trade at the special Edinburgh workshops. Picture: comp
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FROM Bahamian dancing to South African drumming and costume-making, all the secrets of the carnival are about to be revealed to Edinburgh residents.

Through a series of special workshops, the organisers of the Edinburgh Festival Carnival are taking the behind-the-scenes tricks of the trade to communities in Newington, Leith, Wester Hailes, Moredun, Gilmerton and West Pilton.

Children and adults alike are being invited to try out the community workshops in the run-up to the carnival itself, which takes place in the city centre on July 20.

Basic carnival skills like costume-making, drumming, playing music and dancing are being offered by experts including carnival makers and musicians from the Bahamas and South Africa.

The fun workshops start this weekend, running today and tomorrow at Summerhall arts centre.

Carnival supremos Junkanoo Commandos – a 12-piece band from the Bahamas – will teach willing participants everything they need to know about carnival performance, from how to make the perfect flamboyant costume to Caribbean dance moves.

Carnival coordinator Anna Plant says the workshops are designed to bring the carnival to communities and make Edinburgh residents feel really involved.

“We really want to get Edinburgh into the carnival spirit,” says Anna. “It’s so exciting because it’s all about getting Edinburgh residents involved. Carnivals are all about the community.

“The workshops in the community centres are free, and we’ve been welcomed with open arms. They look for projects like this to do with the community during the summer.”

Costume workshops by Junkanoo Commandos take place on Monday and Tuesday and again the following week on July 14 and 15 at Out of the Blue Drill Hall in Leith. People who make their own costumes are then invited to wear them and join in the parade on carnival day.

“Junkanoo Commandos from the Bahamas have performed in multiple carnivals all over the world,” says Anna. “The costume-making workshops will be feathers galore! The outfits are really elaborate and beautiful – lots of feathers, jewels and sequins.”

Another highlight of the carnival programme is the jazz workshop, which is sponsored by the South African Government and led by acclaimed South African trumpeter Ian Smith.

People taking part in this workshop, which runs over two days on July 16 and 17 at Old St Pauls, get the opportunity to play alongside young musicians from the Cape Town townships. The band will come together with local group Tinderbox at the carnival parade.

The carnival parade on July 20, which is run by the organisers of the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, starts at 2pm at the top of The Mound and travels to the West End of Princes Street.

Following the parade, there will be performances from musicians, costumed dancers, circus acrobats, puppetry artists and much more through Princes Street Gardens until 4.30pm. There will also be carnival acts performing in the Grassmarket from 2-5pm.

“It’s going to be really fantastic. This year is going to be even better than last year because of the parade. And there’s always space for more costume wearers,” says Anna. “As well as the big bands we’ve got coming over, we also have lots of groups from Edinburgh involved. There’s going to be a real buzz in the area.”

Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival producer, Roger Spence, adds: “The carnival is established now as a terrific free city centre event with something for everyone. We want to encourage more Edinburgh people to join in.”

Full details of the programme for the Edinburgh Festival Carnival can be found at www.edinburghjazzfestival.com.