Leeds & West Yorkshire

Coronavirus: Leeds West Indian Carnival axes 2020 show

Leeds Carnival 2019
Image caption The carnival, which has been running since 1967, was due to take place in August

An annual carnival that has been staged for more than 50 years has been forced to cancel its 2020 event because of coronavirus.

Leeds West Indian Carnival, which started in 1967, was due to take place in August.

Officials said they were deeply saddened and the decision had been taken with "a heavy heart".

However, the carnival's founder Dr Arthur France promised to be "jammin' again" in 2021.

"As carnivalists we know how to unite the city through joy, happiness and adversity and it's these qualities that will help us get through these difficult times," he said.

"We want everyone to stay safe and look after our elders and the most vulnerable within our community following the government guidelines."

Mr France also thanked everyone who had been involved previously and promised next year's event would be "bigger and better with an array feathers, gems, sequins, costumes and music".

Image caption The carnival attracts crowds in excess of 150,000 people

The Leeds West Indian Carnival was established in 1967 as a remedy for homesickness for those who migrated from the Caribbean.

Image caption The 2019 Leeds carnival involved 2,000 dancers with 50,000 feathers, 20,000 sequins and 5,000 metres of costume material

Councillor Mohammed Rafique, Executive Member for Active Lifestyles, said: "We know clearly that many people will be disappointed by this announcement.

"But we've been working closely with the carnival committee on what is the best thing to do in these extraordinary circumstances."

Reacting to the news on Facebook, one person wrote: "Absolutely gutted, but let's stick together and stay safe."

Another wrote: "Really sad, but we will all look forward to 2021, this is the right thing to do."

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