Carnival Legacy Pop-up

Carnival Makes A Spectacular Return To Leeds City Centre For Heritage Open Day

Photo © Leeds Libraries

In collaboration with East Street Arts, Leeds West Indian Carnival makes a spectacular return to Leeds city centre from 12pm to 4pm on Saturday 16 September, for this year’s Heritage Open Days.

Celebrating the rich Caribbean history and inclusive culture of Carnival, the Carnival Legacy: Pop-up Street Performance event will see New Briggate – a former parade route – come alive with the vibrant colours and joy of Carnival, as part of East Street Arts’ Hidden Histories of New Briggate Project. The project – supported by Leeds City Council and Historic England through the New Briggate High Street Heritage Action Zone regeneration programme – is all about bringing people together, through art, to explore the culture and heritage of our historic high streets.

Following in the footsteps of the iconic August bank holiday extravaganza, Leeds West Indian Carnival troupes will put on pop-up performances throughout the day. With steel-pan, soca and calypso, you can expect an explosion of music, dance, colourful costumes, and storytelling.
There will also be carnival-themed Take Away Art giveaways including whistles, flags, bandanas and postcards.

Khadijah Ibrahiim, Artist and Artistic Director for Carnival Legacy pop-up event, said:
“Leeds West Indian Carnival attracts thousands of people to Chapeltown to share in the celebration of emancipation, our local community, our identity, and our culture. In its early days,
the Carnival parade route was much longer and wound its way down into town and through New Briggate. We’re delighted to be working with East Street Arts to bring it back to New Briggate for this one-off special event.”

Helen Moore, East Street Arts’ engagement lead, said:
“New Briggate has a truly fascinating past but in one of its more vibrant incarnations, it played host to part of the parade route for the spectacular Leeds West Indian Carnival. As part of our Hidden Histories of New Briggate project, we felt it was important to honour this and make sure that this thrilling creative heritage is not forgotten. We can’t wait to share the Carnival energy and excitement with you all – so come
along and be a part of this unique and historic cultural event!”

Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s deputy leader and executive member for economy, culture and education, said:
“New Briggate has long been regarded as one of our city centre’s most vibrant and culturally-exciting streets. This pop-up performance will be a great way of celebrating that proud heritage, while at the same time tapping into the music, movement and magic of Leeds West Indian Carnival. I’m sure people attending the event will come away impressed by the improvements taking shape in the area thanks to the New Briggate High Street Heritage Action Zone programme.”

The Carnival Legacy: Pop-up Street Performance event will complement an upcoming series of Carnival-themed East Street Arts projects taking place this year, in collaboration with Leeds West Indian Carnival. In October, we unveil a brand-new Carnival-inspired mural by artist and costume designer Rhain Kempadoo-Millar in Chapeltown. And, in December, artist and fashion designer Yaku Stapleton will present an exhibition of clothing reimagined for the communities in Leeds today, which takes inspiration from untold tales of Leeds’ history of lothing, textiles and tailoring from New Briggate to carnival, and beyond.

Join us on New Briggate from 12pm to 4pm on Saturday 16 September and be a part of this unique and historic cultural event. Find out more at

Editors notes
● Interviews are available on request

About Leeds West Indian Carnival
Leeds West Indian Carnival (LWIC) is the oldest authentic Caribbean Carnival in Europe. It was the first to incorporate all three essential elements that define Caribbean Carnival: the spectacle of a street parade, the music of kaiso, calypso, soca accompanied by steel pan and a masquerade of colourful costumes.

LWIC was founded in 1967 by three Caribbean men living in Leeds as a remedy for their community’s collective homesickness and need for connection to their cultural identity. LWIC remains committed to the true roots of Caribbean Carnival, a vision championed by co-founder
and Chair, Arthur France: “Carnival is steeped in a history and culture that goes far beyond the costume spectacle …Rooted in slavery, born from Emancipation, and championed by Caribbean communities, it is a journey of resilience, struggles and triumphs that has universal appeal.”

The biggest Caribbean carnival street parade outside London, LWIC’s annual procession attracts up to 150,000 visitors into the city and has become an important contributor to the Leeds cultural economy. Celebrated in August, the annual programme features a children’s costume show, The King & Queen Show, The Soca Monarch, J’ouvert Morning celebrations, culminating in the extravaganza of the street masquerade.

About Hidden Histories of New Briggate
A partnership between Leeds City Council and Historic England, the New Briggate High Street Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) project is delivering heritage-led regeneration through the use of government-funded grants for improvements to buildings and public spaces.

Alongside the regeneration work, East Street Arts is leading a cultural consortium of organisations to deliver a complementary three-year programme of culture that will showcase New Briggate’s rich and diverse story with the help of specially-commissioned artists and a wide-ranging process of community engagement. Hidden Histories of New Briggate forms a key part of this HAZ cultural programme.

The New Briggate Cultural Consortium comprises East Street Arts, Leeds City Council, Leeds Heritage Theatres, Opera North, Age UK, North Bar & Brewery, Leeds Civic Trust and the Churches Conservation Trust.

About East Street Arts
East Street Arts secures better livelihoods for artists and our neighbours, while addressing the issue of economic and commercial decline in our towns and cities. The organisation forces positive interventions through art. As leaders in the artist-led sector for almost 30 years, East Street Arts has empowered artists to be self-determined, take control, incite change and influence key decision-makers to improve lives and environments, locally, nationally and internationally. Follow @EastStreetArts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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