Carnival is a World Movement
Sheffield's first parade in over 20 years
By Stephen Weir for Caribbean Camera
Photos courtesy of the Sheffield Carnival
|Rise of the Phoenix - photo courtesy of Sheffield Carnival|
The list of world carnival cities grew by one on the weekend. Sheffield, a British city of close to 1.6 million people staged its first carnival in over 20-years and English media outlets are reporting it was a success.
“This was the first Carnival event held here since the early 1990's,” Sheffield Carnival spokesperson Andrea Risden told the Caribbean Camera. They were aware of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival and other North American festivals, but decided “not to focus on any overseas carnivals at present. This was an event representative of carnivals around England and unique to Sheffield.”
We had approximately 150 people playing in our mas,” continued Risden. “There were 3 bands in total, Sheffield (split into several sections), Mahogany and a small band from the Leeds West Indian carnival. Not everyone had to wear a costume to take part. Some came prepared with their own creations, so we had additional people get involved and parade with us.”
Because there hasn’t been a carnival this century, organizers of the weekend parade held workshops prior to the fete to teach people how to make costumes. One local camp workshop was able to create highly colourful 'Rise of the Phoenix' costumes that immediately caught the attention of photographers and TV crews.
The parade of the bands, like similar to what happens in Toronto each summer, followed a 3-km long route past spectators and the media. However, unlike Toronto, the Sheffield revellers danced a pathway alongside the perimeter of a downtown park and were not on the road.
|Lord Mayor of Sheffield played Mas!|
The parade was opened by the Lord Mayor of the City, a politician known as Magic Magid. The Somalia refugee (now a British citizen) donned a 3-metre tall red and white costume that resembled a hang glider. He led the paraders through the park and then stayed on site to pose for pictures with many of the 20,000 spectators.
While not everyone wore Caribbean style costumes (people were encouraged to don their national costumes if they didn’t want to go full Mas), the enthusiasm for the event, coupled with strong local sponsorship and a successful online fundraising, guarantees that Carnival has come back to Sheffield.
And what is on the books for the next fete? Organizers want to win back the right to play mas on the street. “The road is something we aspire to in the years to come!” said Risden.