Organisers cancel this year's Leeds West Indian Carnival due to coronavirus pandemic

Organisers of the Leeds West Indian Carnival have announced this year's event will be cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sunday, 29th March 2020, 12:21 pm
Updated Sunday, 29th March 2020, 12:24 pm

A post on carnival's official Facebook page said they will be releasing a statement soon, together with Leeds City Council, "on the cancellation of Carnival 2020".

The annual event - which has been taking place for over 50 years and attracts over 150,000 spectators from all over the UK - was due to be held on August 31.

The decision follows a previous statement which organisers issued on Friday to say they were closely monitoring the situation.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The 2019 West Indian Carnival,Chapeltown, Leeds Carnival Queen Tahiela Odain Hamilton. Picture by Simon Hulme

In that statement, carnival chairman and founder Arthur France said: "We have never been in this situation before but can assure you that we are here to support everyone involved in carnival from our designers to the local community. We want everyone to stay safe and look after our elders and the most vulnerable within our community following government guidelines."

The Leeds West Indian Carnival was first held in 1967 as a remedy for homesickness for those who came over from the Caribbean and is now the longest-running West Indian Carnival in Europe.

Carnival fans have already been reacting to the news on the event's Facebook page.

Amy Smith wrote: "That's so sad, best day of the year in Leeds every year. I'm sure you will all make 2021's Carnival worth the wait."

The 2019 West Indian Carnival,Chapeltown, Leeds. Picture by Simon Hulme

Neil Fallows wrote: "Absolutely gutted that it's being cancelled. But let's just stick together and stay safe."

The Facebook page is encouraging people to create some "carnival vibes" by posting pictures of themselves at a previous year's carnival "with a few words of "positivity" adding: "Remember be #carnivalhappy".

The 2018 Leeds West Indian Carnival, Chapeltown, Leeds. Carnival Queen Holly Southwell. Picture by Simon Hulme