Meet the team hand stitching costumes for the Leeds Carnival 2019 this month

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A dedicated team has been working for many months on the extravagant costumes for Leeds Carnival 2019.

Now in its 52nd year, it is an annual tradition for the volunteers who make Carnival a huge success, to hand stitch each costume for the biggest date on the Leeds outdoor events calendar.

Carmen Brown, eight, of Harehills, is preparing for the 52nd West Indian carnival on Monday 26 August, 2019.'Picture: James Hardisty.

Carmen Brown, eight, of Harehills, is preparing for the 52nd West Indian carnival on Monday 26 August, 2019.'Picture: James Hardisty.

Carnival attracts more than 100,000 people each August bank holiday Monday, as it winds through the streets of Chapeltown and Harehills, after the parade leaves Potternewton Park.

But the making of scores of costumes and headdresses has to be finished in time, with most created from scratch each year, with often a last minute scramble to meet the deadline.

Carnival chairman Arthur France, 83, said: “It is a year long task really with extra pressure as Carnival approaches.

“The volunteers do a great job and give up many hours in the run up to Carnival to ensure the costumes are perfect. And they usually are.”

Arthur France, MBE, Chairman of The Leeds West Indian Carnival, chatting costume maker Yvette Smalle. Picture by James Hardisty.

Arthur France, MBE, Chairman of The Leeds West Indian Carnival, chatting costume maker Yvette Smalle. Picture by James Hardisty.

The very first Caribbean carnival in Europe was held in Leeds in 1967 and was organised by grandfather Mr France, of Roundhay.

A carnival in Leeds has been held since 1967, and the carnival founder has never missed a single one: “This will be our 52nd carnival in the city and we are always positive that is will be bigger and brighter than the year before.”

Many of the costumes are for the carnival parade, which will follow its traditional route from Potternewton Park and through the streets of Harehills and Chapeltown.

Mr France, originally from St Kitts, organised the first carnival in Leeds while he was a student at Leeds University. He has remained in the city ever since.

Arthur France, MBE, Chairman of The Leeds West Indian Carnival, checks over the carnival costumes.

Arthur France, MBE, Chairman of The Leeds West Indian Carnival, checks over the carnival costumes.

There will be a thanksgiving service on Sunday 25 August at the Roscoe Church on Chapeltown Road, from 10.30am-1pm.

Mr France added: “Carnival is a celebration of the emancipation of slavery, the service will thank and remember our forefathers for what they went through and for what we have achieved today.”

There are lots of other carnival events happening in the run up to and during the weekend

FACTFILE: Leeds Carnival 2019 dates for your diary

Sunday 18 August – Carnival Prince and Princess Show, at Leeds West Indian Centre from 3pm-8pm.

Friday 23 August doors open 6.30pm show starts at 7.30pm – Carnival King and Queen Show costumes by talented designers from across the UK, all competing for the prestigious title of Carnival King and Queen 2019. Hosted by Richard Blackwood with music by New World Steel Orchestra.

Bank Holiday Monday 26 August

J’ouvert Morning, wear your pyjamas for an early Carnival start at West Indian Centre from 6am.

Leeds Carnival Parade Monday 26 August

Starts from Potternewton Park, Leeds LS7 4HB from 2pm returning around 5:30pm for judging of costumes on main stage

More details and tickets for all events at www.leedscarnival.co.uk