Leeds Carnival 2014
Image: Maria Spadafora

Leeds West Indian Carnival’s 47th anniversary was certainly one to remember.

The celebrations kicked off with the crowning of Leeds Carnival Prince & Princess on August 17th as eight year old Khaleil Fell from Leeds triumphed in his Carnival Peacock costume designed by mum Lisa Fell whilst 12 year old Setara Blair also from Leeds took the Princess title as Maya, Princess of the Golden Shrine by Malachi Blair and Anonymas.

The annual King & Queen Show debuted at the nationally renowned West Yorkshire Playhouse on Friday 22nd August. Fourteen jaw dropping large scale King and Queen costumes vied for the title but the judges bestowed the prestigious Carnival King & Queen 2014 titles on Lindo Mkomo as Sea Dragon by Sheila Howarth, Raymond Wilkes and The Geraldine Connor Foundation and Davinia Harmer’s She is Africa – Mother of Abundance by Colin Spalding and Stephen Hoyte of Rampage Mas Band. West Yorkshire Playhouse Artistic Director commented;

‘We were thrilled to host the Carnival King & Queen show at West Yorkshire Playhouse; this spectacular event was a huge success and provided a fantastic start to our partnership with Leeds West Indian Carnival. We’re looking forward to more exciting projects in the future as we begin our new relationship joining carnival and the arts and celebrating the culture, inspiration and imagination this iconic event brings to Leeds.’

The sell out show also featured a captivating acoustic performance from Tila & Tavelah of BBC’s The Voice UK, laughs from show hosts Eddie Nestor and Robbie Gee and a lively Pop Up Carnival showcase. Special guest soca star Kerwin Du Bois, Trinidad & Tobago’s reigning International Groovy Soca Monarch had the packed theatre on their feet with a string of Carnival anthems.

Just 24 hours later eight singers pitted wits, lyrics and melodies at the Calypso Monarch Show. Backed by Stone Roots Band and with topics ranging from affairs of the heart to politics the calypsonians made friendly jibes and comedic sketches to a Caribbean sound track. The Calypso Monarch title eventually went to Soca B whose Leh Deh Tek Dat ode proving a hit with the Leeds West Indian Centre crowd.

On August Bank Holiday Monday 25th August despite wet weather thousands turned out from across the UK to take in the sights and sounds of the Caribbean at Europe’s longest running authentic Caribbean carnival parade.

The early start at J’Ouvert Morning, the traditional 6 am fancy dressed start to the day’s celebrations were the perfect warm up to the spectacle of the big Carnival parade later on in the day.

Visitors from as far afield as Europe, the Caribbean and U.S. as well as Devon, Glasgow, Oxford and London flocked to the city to sample the array of global cuisine, entertainment and music on offer in Potternewton Park. Centre of attention were the 23 vibrant troupes, 16 stunning King and Queen costumes, and 13 youngsters in Prince and Princess creations all making up the thrilling rainbow hued procession which made its way through the streets of Leeds.

Carnival Chairman and Founder Arthur France said; “Hats off to the thousands of people taking part in Leeds Carnival 2014 and to those who travelled form near and far despite the weather. It was a fantastic atmosphere and a great testimony to the months of hard work that has lead up to an amazing day that not even the rain could put a dampener on.”

Soca songstress Fya Empress entertained the crowds with a lively performance just before judges announced the Lost Treasures of the Yukatan by Leeds based Anonymas as Biggest Troupe on the day whilst Gail Claxton’s water themed Unite mas band took Best Troupe title.

Mr. France added; “The fun may be over for now but the hard work and preparations for next year have already begun. We’re looking forward to a bigger and brighter Carnival 2015 and exciting times ahead of our 50th anniversary celebrations in 2017”.