Leeds West Indian Carnival moves online but will be back "with a bang" in 2021

The annual Leeds West Indian Carnival has moved online this year - but the founder hopes that it will be "back with a bang" in 2021.

Tuesday, 1st September 2020, 3:44 pm
The West Indian Carnival, Chapeltown, Leeds .26th August 2019.Picture by Simon Hulme

Leeds Carnival is one of the most popular events in the city's calendar and celebrates the culture and history of the Caribbean community.

Sadly, it was cancelled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Arthur France, who founded the Chapeltown based carnival back in 1967, said he was sad to cancel it but that health and safety took priority.

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Arthur France, founder and chairman of Leeds West Indian Carnival with one of the costumes on display at the West Indian Carnival exhibition at The Tetley in 2017. Picture by Steve Riding.

Dr France, 84, said: "It is sad, and people are disappointed, but it is one of those things where people's health has to come first.

"It is the first time we have had to cancel in 52 years.

"We are doing something online but it will not be how it normally is and there will be no crowds or parades."

-> Why we should channel the carnival spirit to unite in fight against coronavirus - Laura Collins, YEP EditorThe free online event will take place over two days - from Sunday, August 30 to Monday, August 31.

Leeds West Indian Carnival dancers making their way along Roundhay Road, Harehills in 2010. Picture by James Hardisty.

The hosts and performers will be broadcasting live from the West Indian Centre on Laycock Place.

They will all be socially distancing from one another.

Day one will look back on the last 10 years of Carnival Princes and Princesses as well as the Kings and Queens.

Day two will have live DJ sets, online performers and quizzes and prizes.

-> Leeds West Indian Carnival moves annual parade and celebrations onlineOrganisers of Leeds Carnival are now looking ahead and beginning to plan for next year.

As well as the usual colourful parades, delicious food and celebrations, they will also be incorporating a lot more history and traditional costumes into the event.

Dr France said it is important that as well as wanting to come back with a "big bang", he wants to "recognise the importance of carnival" and its history.

Dr France said: "All the plans we had for this year we have put on hold but we have started preparing for next year.

"We hope to come back with a big bang.

"I think that the Black Lives Matter movement has created more interest and passion about black history, the slave trade and what is happening in the Americas and Africa.

"Leeds Carnival is a celebration of the emancipation of the West Indies.

"We want to recognise and realise the importance of that and look at the more traditional issues around it.

"As well as the parade and celebration, we will be researching and looking at an exhibition to display the whole culture and history behind Carnival."

Tickets for the free events are available online.

Between 1662 and 1807, Africans were forcibly moved to British owned colonies and sold as slaves to work on plantations.

Britain shipped a total of 3.1 million Africans across the Atlantic Ocean during the Transatlantic Slave Trade, according to the National Archives.

The Slave Trade Act was passed in 1807, which made the buying and selling of slaves from Africa illegal.

However, the act of slavery itself had not ended.

In 1833, the Slavery Abolition Act made the purchase or ownership of slaves illegal within the British Empire.

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Thank you

Laura Collins