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13 November 2014

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You are in: Nottingham > History > Local history > The history of Nottingham carnival

'Caribbean Carnival' by Laura Patterson

'Caribbean Carnival' by Laura Patterson

The history of Nottingham carnival

An established festival since the 1970s, the carnival has experienced many ups and downs.

The Caribbean carnival in Nottingham began in 1970. A group of West Indians, mainly from the island of St Kitts, held a carnival parade in the Meadows.

It became the main annual event for Nottingham's black community.

But because of a lack of funding and awareness the bid to make the event a major Midlands attraction failed after just three years.

It was a pattern which repeated itself during the 1980s and mid 1990s.

Nottingham Carnival 2005

Nottingham Carnival 2005

New century, new optimism

It was actually the cancellation of the carnival in 1998 that acted as a catalyst for the event we see today.

Concerns over health, safety and security were the reasons it was called off but there was such a reaction from the black community, including demonstrations, which resulted in Nottingham City Council asking for outside help.

The Tuntum Housing Association, a community based black-led housing association, was approached.

They agreed to set up an infrastructure to help re-form the carnival.

The Nottingham Carnival Trust was formed and the event re-established in 1999.

This time it was supported by the local authority, the police and the black community.

Changes for the good

The revised carnival now made a parade of mass bands the key event of the weekend with the main parade day switching from Saturday to Sunday.

It was also staged in the heart of the black community instead of through the city centre. That's why the parade is focused around the Forest Recreation Ground.

In the pursuit of better race relations the white and Asian communities were encouraged to get involved.

Today the Nottingham Caribbean Carnival is a truly multicultural festival.

Carnival organiser Leslie Robinson

Organiser Leslie Robinson

Mr Carnival

Leslie Robinson has been carnival organiser since the Tuntum Housing Association became involved at the end of the 90s.

"I've always gone to Nottingham carnival since I was a teenager," he says.

"Traditionally Nottingham has a large Jamaican community. It was always known for attracting big international reggae acts from Jamaica.

"[The carnival] is an annual celebration of life. We can learn more about ourselves, accepting and understanding other cultures."

The origins of carnival

Leslie says carnivals in general came about during the slave trade.

"The 'slave masters' were always celebrating, be it a good harvest or Christmas. African people got involved by learning from their 'slave masters'. We celebrated for a number of reasons - spiritual, bringing people together."

In Nottingham the tradition lives on.

"People don't get paid at carnival," says Leslie.

"It's all about wanting to celebrate their culture, heritage and tradition. People look forward to it."

In 2009

The 2009 Nottingham carnival runs over the weekend of 4 and 5 July. The main procession of floats will be held on the Sunday.

last updated: 06/07/2009 at 12:23
created: 12/06/2009

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