THOUSANDS of spectators will join to create a carnival atmosphere in the city centre on Sunday as hundreds of performers gather to kick start the festival season.
Now in its sixth year, the Festival Carnival is limbering up for its biggest year yet growing from 20 carnival performers leading the festivities in 2012 to over 800 this weekend.
A key event in the launch of the summer Festival season, the jubilant showcase will once again set Princes Street and Princes Street Gardens humming with the rhythms of salsa, African drummers, Balkan beats and swirling pipes.
As well as a treat for the ear, the Carnival offers a feast for the eyes with sequined dancers, feathered costumes, Chinese dragons, circus performers and street theatre in a dazzling spectacle in the shadow of the Castle.
The Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival producer, Roger Spence, who runs the Carnival said: “The Festival Carnival creates a fantastic spectacle in the city centre, with performers from all around the world sharing their Carnival cultures with the people of Edinburgh and each other.
“As always, we are inviting the people of Edinburgh to join the Carnival fun by either participating – why not wear a costume? – or simply by attending and having a great day out.
“We’d like to thank the Edinburgh Council and Forth1 for supporting the event.”
The carnival, which replaced the traditional cavalcade, will start at the top of the Mound and wind down Princes Street to South Charlotte Street in an international extravaganza of high-energy music and dazzling costumes.
In true carnival fashion, the people of Edinburgh will be invited to take part in the parade alongside the professional musicians, dancers and costumed performers.
Individuals, families or groups can also sign up to come along on the day and wear one of the fantastic Carnival costumes.
The Parade led by carnival favourites, Barefeet Theatre – an acrobat group from Zambia – will feature over 800 drummers, acrobats, dancers, jugglers, brass players, pipers, stilt walkers in a dazzling range of costumes and puppets, all coming together from 12 different countries, including China, South Africa, Zambia, Martinique, Holland, France, Spain and Portugal as well as Scottish and UK acts.
Last year’s spectacular attracted over 21,000 residents and visitors from in and around the city on one of the hottest days of the year and organisers hope even more people will come down to the carnival on Sunday to join in the party atmosphere.
This year’s event will take place from 2.30pm until 5pm on Sunday, July 16 with free admission for all.
Culture and communities convener Cllr Donald Wilson, said: “We are delighted to support the Edinburgh Festival Carnival again this year.
“Founded on the belief that the arts are to be enjoyed by everyone, Edinburgh’s Carnival injects the city’s streets with music, dance and fun for all ages.
“This summer the parade celebrates just how international Edinburgh’s cultural offering has become and, of course, the centenary of jazz. It will be the perfect way to enjoy summer in the city.”
Visitors will have the chance to witness everything from Cape Town dancers, to acrobats from Zambia, KalentuRa – drummers and dancers from Holland and a host of Samba performers.
Returning favourites include the Edinburgh Samba School which will be showcasing a spectacle of Samba percussion and dance alongside another the French Samba Resille group and Pulse of the Place, a young Edinburgh-based Samba group.
The local Chinese Community will exhibit a traditional Chinese Dragon and Lion alongside a pep-circus from France, Bombrando pipes and drums performance from Portugal and dance groups from Spain and Beijing.
To view the programme visit www.edinburghjazzfestival.com/carnival.html or facebook.com/EdinburghFestivalCarnival
Edinburgh Festival Carnival organisers are also looking for volunteers – aged 16 and over – to support the Carnival. For information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 0131 467 5200.