CHINESE dragons, stilt walkers and acrobats are gearing up entertain record crowds as the fourth Edinburgh Festival Carnival bursts into life.
More than 30,000 people are expected to flock to the colourful spectacle featuring a host of international performers, musicians and entertainers from drummers to jugglers.
Organisers said tomorrow’s extravaganza promised to be the “biggest and brightest yet” with 700 performers parading through the heart of the city.
The hour-long parade will begin at the top of The Mound at 2pm before moving on to the west end of Princes Street, giving way to an afternoon of live performances at Princes Street Gardens and the Grassmarket.
And organisers have stressed that the carnival is not just for participants, with the people of Edinburgh invited to take part in the riot of sound and colour alongside performers.
The parade, led by carnival favourites Kalentura from the Netherlands, will feature dancers, brass players and pipers in a dazzling array of costumes.
Representatives from 12 countries including China, South Africa, Zambia and Italy will march along Princes Street to South Charlotte Street after which much of the parade will move to King’s Stables Road and through the Grassmarket.
Last year’s Festival Carnival welcomed 31,000 residents and visitors on one of the hottest days of the year and organisers expect “similar numbers” this year.
The free event, which is run by the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival and is supported by the city council, takes place from 2pm until 5.30pm.
Producer Roger Spence says: “The Festival Carnival creates a fantastic spectacle, with performers from all around the world sharing their 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, or simply by attending and having a great day out.”
Councillor Richard Lewis, festivals and events champion, adds: “We are delighted to support the Edinburgh Festival Carnival again this year. It is important to make culture accessible to all ages, price ranges and tastes and the carnival offers that.
“The parade celebrates just how international Edinburgh’s cultural offering has become and it’s the perfect way to launch the summer festival.”
Amongst the acts will be dancers from Cape Town, acrobats from Zambia and drummers and dancers from Holland.
Oona McGinnis, sponsorship and promotions manager from Forth 1, says: “We are proud to be a sponsor of the Edinburgh Festival Carnival. Set against the iconic backdrop of Edinburgh Castle, the event adds a splash of excitement to the streets of Edinburgh.
“We are delighted that Mark Martin will compere the main stage.”
The event is supported by the city council and sponsored by Forth 1 and Greater Grassmarket.
The grand opening will be held at the Ross Bandstand from 3pm, hosted by Forth DJ Mark Martin. First up at 3.05pm will be Bandakadabra, a 12-strong band from Turin in Italy who blend jazz, Balkan party music, Mediterranean folk melodies and blues.
At 3.35pm Edinburgh Samba School is set to bring a taste of Rio to the Capital, featuring drummers, rousing percussion and carnival dancers.
Beijing Golden Sail Dance Troupe, a troupe of young traditional Chinese dancers, will take to the stage 4.05pm.
Just over half an hour later, Caribbean-style drum band Kalentura will perform on stage where they will be joined for their finale by break dancers from South Africa and acrobats from Africa.
Barefeet, from Zambia, who are renowned for their flips, tricks and gravity-defying acrobatics, will be performing in Princes Street Gardens alongside Acas Sintra, a dance troupe from Portugal.
Floriferocity, seven stilt walkers from India, will be recreating scenes Alice In Wonderland in amazing flower costumes.
Edinburgh Performers will also be giving acrobatic performances and entertainer, magician and escapologist Todd Various will be demonstrating some spectacular tricks with ropes to entertain children and families.
Anansi, a group of drummers, dancers and poi performers, named after the trickster spider in the folk tales of the Ashanti people, will join the Processional and the Beastie Drummers, familiar to those who have attended the city’s Beltane Fire Festival.
Representatives from the Chinese community will be giving the event an oriental flavour, with traditional Tai Chi demonstrations. The Beijing Golden Sail Dance Troupe are inspired by the theme of health and wellbeing, while there will also be a parade dragon and lion costumes.
Brass Gumbo, a New Orleans-inspired brass band, will be blending funk and jazz through to hip-hop and contemporary music. Other music highlights will include the Fanfare van de Eerste Liefdesnacht, a 25-piece colourful street orchestra from Amsterdam, and Criterion Brass Band, Scotland’s best known New Orleans-style brass band.
Durban Music School Jazz Band, a seven-piece youth jazz band, will play music from the townships, churches and streets of South Africa.
There will be other events in the Gardens to entertain younger carnival-goers, including a children’s play and do area.
At the west end of the Gardens, next to the playground, they will be able to get their faces painted, hear a story, catch a magic show and watch balloon-sculptors creating various animals. Meanwhile, events in the Grassmarket’s King’s Stables Road Stage will include jazz act Shreveport Rhythm from Germany, Soulfool from Hungary and exotic party music from Rumba De Bodas of Italy.
The Grassmarket’s East End Stage will host Blues dance sensation Spoonful.