Leeds West Indian Carnival 2019 gets underway

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Leeds is gearing up for a weekend of music, colour and Caribbean food as the city's West Indian Carnival 2019 gets underway.

It is the 52nd anniversary of the longest-running West Indian Carnival in Europe, climaxing in the Carnival Day Procession on Monday.

This years Carnival Prince and Princess, Anelia ,aged 12, and Tyrese, 14. (Photo: Tesfa Walton).

This years Carnival Prince and Princess, Anelia ,aged 12, and Tyrese, 14. (Photo: Tesfa Walton).

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The weekend's events began on Friday evening with the Carnival King and Queen Show at the Royal Armouries, where the best costumes were on display and the leaders of the parade chosen.

On Monday, more than 100,000 people will descend on Potternewton Park as the carnival parade of more than 2,000 costumed dancers, 20 floats, masquerade bands and a steel band sets off at 2.15pm.

The route, which takes around three hours to cover, takes in Harehills Lane to Roundhay Road, Barrack Road, Chapeltown Road, Harehills Avenue then back into Potternewton Park.

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The first Leeds West Indian Carnival happened in 1967.

Ahmya Wilson-Pyke, then aged 9, at the 2014 Carnival.

Ahmya Wilson-Pyke, then aged 9, at the 2014 Carnival.

It helped to enable West Indian settlers who had arrived in Britain after the Second World War to assert their own cultural identities in a society that often seemed less welcoming at the time.

The Masquerade or ‘Mas’ bands compete to show who has the most elaborate costumes and the best dance choreography, to win the titles of ‘Best Mas Band’ and ‘Best Individual Costume’.

Arthur France, a Leeds University student from Nevis in the West Indies played a pivotal role in the initiation of the event.

He said: “I’m excited that over 50 years since carnival started in Leeds, we can all still enjoy that first burst of Caribbean culture, music and art in the city.”

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Live music, sound systems, stalls and a fun-fair provide entertainment and Caribbean food and drinks are a must for anyone wanting to get into the carnival spirit.

J’Ouvert, the early morning tradition of daubing mud and brightly coloured paint on the bodies of participants as they follow a musical parade through the streets, takes place before the main event, starting at Leeds West Indian Centre at 6am.