I may be living in London now, but I think I left my heart in Bristol.
Sad news today as I heard that the famous St Pauls Carnival is being scaled back due to lack of funding. This will mean the carnival is contained within the Portland Square and there won’t be any late-night sound systems. If you’ve never been to the carnival before, it really is one of the highlights of the Bristol year. In the middle of the summer, the event sees a massive parade through the St Pauls area, with floats, dancers, musicians and other performers. Similar in some ways to the Notting Hill Carnival, the event has an afro-carribean flavour, celebrating the city’s rich multicultural heritage. The masses are attracted to come and see bands and DJs play the various make-shift stages, visit the fairground rides, eat some jerk-chicken from a stall set-up in someone’s garden and lounge on the grass with a pint of cider. The entire area has a festival atmosphere to it as streets are closed off to cars and masses mill around. The event attracts people from all over Bristol and beyond. In the evening various sound-stages are set up to play an eclectic mix of music, one of the most famous being in the Malcolm X centre car-park, and hoards of people dance their way into the next day.
It’s a truly fantastic event. Being there made me really feel part of the city, wandering around, taking in the spicy scent on the air, seeing so many different people of all ages and backgrounds coming together. It feels like this is what Bristol is about, art, diversity and community. St Pauls does have a bad reputation from the past as an area for drugs and crime, which has been hard to shift. But this event really pulls people in and celebrates all that’s special in the area, its unique character. Seeing school children in the parade with their hand-made costumes and banners sends a strong message that this is not an area to be ashamed of, this is the true beating heart of the city.
The event costs £250,000 to stage and sadly they only received £3,000 in donations at the event last year. This hasn’t been well-publicised so there hasn’t been much opportunity to fundraise before the decision to down-size the event was announced. But there is still something we can do to help this event stay great. On the St Pauls Carnival website they have details of how donations can be made by text, I’ve just done mine. See you next summer!
Photos by me.