Edinburgh Festival Carnival to rock capital

Capital residents will get a taste of the Brazilian carnival feeling this weekend.
Capital residents will get a taste of the Brazilian carnival feeling this weekend.
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THE World Cup may be over but Capital residents will get a taste of the Brazilian carnival feeling this weekend when the city’s streets are transformed in a riot of colour, music and dancing.

Thousands of spectators are expected to turn out to the Edinburgh Festival Carnival on Sunday, as the massive event returns to Princes Street for the first time in six years with a spectacular procession featuring fire jugglers, street theatre and 100 drummers.

More than 600 performers, including 200 from Edinburgh-based groups, will play their part, helping to kick the parade off with a bang before it makes its way down The Mound to the west of Princes Street at 2pm.

Performers will then show off their skills in the Princes Street Gardens followed by a programme at the Ross Bandstand at 4.30pm including representatives from 19 countries who have come together to present the free event and bring a flavour of the exotic carnivals to Edinburgh.

The Grassmarket is set to come alive with a mini parade and acts from Spain, Italy and Trinidad and Tobago from 2pm to 5pm, as well as an international food market on hand to keep festival-goers energised.

The event has been organised by the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, which runs from July 18 to 27, and is now in its third year.

Carnival co-ordinator Anna Plant said organisers have been planning the event for the last six months and had been inundated with requests to take part in the carnival.

“It’s going to be a really exciting year,” she said. “We have been running workshops with Artscape Youth Band and Junkanoo Commandos from the Bahamas which we have had a really positive response from – they have been out to West Pilton and we have just finished workshops where we built some fantastic hats.”

Ms Plant explained how everyone who has participated in the workshops has now been invited to follow the Junkanoo Commandos, who will be playing brass instruments and the drums, through the parade.

“There’s a lot of momentum building up this year and a lot more local groups involved,” she added.

The festival is also packed with activities including workshops teaching people how to walk on stilts and other circus skills such as juggling and hoola hooping. You can even dress up in some of the flamboyant costumes specifically designed for the event.

But that’s not forgetting the more traditional city performers such as the Stockbridge Pipe Band and the Beltane Fire Society who will also be joining in to add a touch of Edinburgh’s well-known arts into the mix. The parade has long been part of the summer months in the Capital, and thousands used to turn out for the Festival Cavalcade every year. In August 1987, the event was sponsored by the Evening News, with dozens of balloons featuring in that year’s colourful parade while other memorable moments included three young boys putting their cycling skills to the test as they rode alongside the floats on unicycles in 1985.

Celebrities “infected” by the carnival atmosphere include television personality, Ronnie Corbett, who appeared in a giant rabbit and gorilla cage at the event in 1983.

Ms Plant said she is hoping the carnival will smash last year’s figures when 18,000 people turned up to the event especially with this year’s addition of two extra stages.

“It’s just nice to bring all these different cultures together and celebrate their music, dance and art,” she said.

The carnival is supported by the Evening News, Edinburgh City Council, the Italian Cultural Institute, Brouhaha, Edinburgh Chinese Community Festival Committee and the Carnival volunteer team.

You can find it on Twitter @EdinburghJazzFest or using the hashtag #EdCarnival