The annual Leeds West Indian Carnival brought thousands of participants and spectators to the streets of Chapeltown as daily life stood still to celebrate the area’s vast and varied cultures.
Costumes which have been carefully crafted over the course of months brought colour and vibrancy, as well as several hundreds of sequins, to a parade route which covers around two miles from Potternewton Park, Harehills Avenue, Roundhay Road and back up Chapeltown Road.
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The start this year was slightly delayed while a parked car obstructing the route was promptly towed away, but once it got underway there was music and dancing from both local performers and those who had travelled from afar to take part in the event which is now in its 51st year and one of the highlights in the city’s calendar.
Rachel Stuteley lives in Durham but still comes back home to Leeds each year for the carnival weekend and watches with her sister Shannon Hoyte of Belle Isle and their children.
They said: “It is about our culture, our heritage and our background. We totally support it and want our children to see it. They love to come.”
Phillip Marshall, 35, of Little London also makes the day a family affair as his relatives join him from Bramley with their families and a picnic.
He said: “For us it is about getting together, enjoying the music, seeing the cultures and teaching the kids different cultures. It is a good day out if the weather holds.”
And after torrential rain on Sunday, it did with many choosing to start the carnival party early.
Hours before the parade people had started to line the route to get a good viewing vantage and whistles and music were going off as far back as Chapel Allerton while crowds started to stream towards Potternewton Park.
The Park was packed with people having picnics and drinks and stalls selling traditional Carribean style food, barbecues, jerk chicken and rum punch as well as clothes, headresses, garlands and accessories.
Bands, artists and DJs took to several stages that had been set up with the party set to continue well into the early hours of this morning.
Coun Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “Once again the Leeds West Indian Carnival has been memorable occasion which has encapsulated the vibrancy of our city and its communities.
“For more than 50 years now, Carnival has been part of the heartbeat of Leeds, making a significant contribution to the local economy, showcasing the city’s cultural offering to the world and making us proud to live in a place which embraces and celebrates diversity.”