#YesLeeds: Rainbow city flies the flag of diversity

Have your say

OUR big city has a huge heart, and that is nowhere more evident than in the way that it has embraced a rainbow of communities.

Two of the highlights of Leeds’s annual cultural calendar are the Leeds West Indian Carnival and the Leeds Pride festival.

The YEP is profiling some of the city’s well known cultural events, places and people - as well as some of its hidden gems - as we champion a potential bid for the city to become European Capital of Culture in 2023.

And when it comes to colour and spectacle and multi-cultural joy, these two are hard to beat.

The Leeds West Indian Carnival was founded in 1967 by Arthur France as a remedy for his homesickness for his native St Kitts and Nevis.

Bringing phenomenal costumes, rhythmic steel pan and soca music together with the arts, crafts and cuisine of the Caribbean, it is Europe’s longest running authentically Caribbean carnival parade and the biggest outside London.

Speaking ahead of last summer’s event, which is thought to have drawn 150,000 people to Chapeltown and Potternewton Park, Mr France said: “Carnival is a spectacle that never ceases to amaze both spectators and participants.

“The thrill of the costumes, the beat of the music, the delicious food and above all the happy atmosphere are what have made the Carnival such a wonderful attraction for Leeds and Yorkshire for five decades – whatever the weather.”

The first Leeds Pride festival was held almost a decade ago, starting with around 100 people. Around 30,000 are thought to have flocked to last August’s event.

An annual one-day celebration of life and love through the eyes of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGB&T) community, the festival also encompasses inclusivity and a family-friendly vibe.

Ali Liaqat, one of the organisers of Leeds Pride, which returns this year on August 3, said: “Leeds Pride is about pride for the whole city.

“We do represent the LGBT message, because there are still issues in various countries. But we encourage the whole city to attend. We’d love to be part of the European Capital of Culture bid and help draw more people to the city.”