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Leeds Carnival's 100,000 crowd breaks record

It's one of the things which make Leeds a great city – and a record crowd of more than 100,000 celebrated its 40th birthday in style. Watch slideshow of images from Leeds Carnival here.

The Leeds Carnival, founded by the post-war Caribbean immigrants, is rivalled only by its bigger sister in London's Notting Hill in terms of size and splendour.

In a triple landmark yesterday, this year's Bank Holiday Monday party also complemented Yorkshire's contribution to events marking the bicentenary of the abolition of transatlantic slavery and came shortly after Leeds West Indian Centre's silver jubilee.

It also crowned a big year for Ian Charles, one of the organisers, as he was recently appointed MBE. "That is nice personally, but it is all about the carnival," Ian said.

"We started something and never, ever thought of it going this far.

"It was a record crowd this year with, we estimate, more than 100,000. There were people here from all over the world."

That crowd turned Potternewton Park into a striking mish-mash of colours, shapes, sights and sounds, all buzzing close to the costumes resembling birds of paradise massing in the parade ring.

Among those enjoying her first carnival was ten-year-old Haley-Marie Hunter, of Seacroft.

She said: "I love the costumes. I'll come here all the time now."

An unmissable outfit was that of Carnival Queen Charlene Smith, who headed the parade riding a white charger. Eight months' work had gone into making the float and clothes.

Charlene said: "It is an amazing feeling, the best vibe ever. There are butterflies in my stomach but the adrenaline is really going. It's a massive privilege."

Among the thousands following behind the Queen were eight-year-old cousins Sophie Sice and Sharvontee Esson.

Both were to take part in the procession as it snaked its way through the Chapeltown and Harehills streets.

Sharvontee said: "I have been doing the parade since I was a baby. I love the dancing." She wasn't alone: people danced as they stood and as they walked.

An elderly couple swayed a spritely samba a few yards from where a rubbery little lad did the splits and then a somersault.

Nearby, a middle-aged West Indian lady picked her way through the park, immaculate in tweed jacket, skirt, felt hat and pearls.

Jimmy Sudlow, who had made the trip from Middlesbrough, smiled as he waited in the queue at Maureen's food stall. He said: "I've been to Notting Hill before but didn't know about this carnival until now. It is like a hidden gem and I'll definitely be back."

Ian Charles stood quietly and watched the passing party-goers. He praised Leeds City Council for its help to change the image from Chapeltown Carnival to Leeds Carnival.

"It has worked, just look at this crowd. Everyone talking and laughing. It is what we need to be doing," he said.

And to prove his point, police reported just five arrests over the whole event.

 
 
 

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