RECORD-BREAKING crowds are expected to flock to the city centre as the festival season bursts to life in a riot of sound and colour.
Stilt-walkers, brass bands and Chinese dragons are set to appear in Sunday’s fourth Edinburgh Festival Carnival, which promises to be the “biggest and brightest yet”.
Last year the Carnival drew the largest crowds since the Cavalcade was replaced three years ago, a total of 31,000 people.
But this year, organisers said they were “hoping to break that record” with a target crowd of 35,000.
The hour-long parade starts at the top of the Mound at 2pm and moves on to the West End before giving way to an afternoon of live performances at Princes Street Gardens and the Grassmarket.
A Carnival spokeswoman said: “The Grassmarket activity is an enhancement of last year’s pilot project, which proved so successful and drew large crowds. There will be two stages operating there this year with music, dance and parading – continuing the party atmosphere set up by the Jazz and Blues Festival’s Mardi Gras in the same arena on Saturday afternoon.”
The parade, led by Carnival favourites Kalentura from the Netherlands, will feature dancers, brass players and pipers in a dazzling array of costumes.
The free event run by the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival is supported by the city council and is due to finish at around 5.30pm.
Producer Roger Spence 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 fun by either participating, or simply by attending and having a great day out.”
Among the 700 performers will be groups from 12 countries, making the carnival one of the most cosmopolitan so far.
The show will feature performers from China, South Africa, India, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Martinique, Portugal, Spain, Germany, and Zambia.
Councillor Richard Lewis, festivals and events champion, said: “The parade celebrates just how international Edinburgh’s cultural offering has become and it’s the perfect way to launch the summer festival.”
The grand opening of the live performances will be held at the Ross Bandstand at 3pm.
Shows in the King’s Stables Road Stage will include performances from dancers plus jazz and soul acts.
Among the highlights at the Grassmarket’s East End Stage will be a blues dance sensation and performances from a Spanish samba band.