Leeds West Indian Carnival 2021: Everything you need to know

The Leeds West Indian Carnival will host a new ‘legacy’ event programme for 2021.

Leeds Carnival is one of the longest-running in the UK and many have been waiting eagerly to find out how the programming will run in 2021, as restrictions begin to ease around the city.

Founded in the city in 1967 by Dr France, it is the celebration of the emancipation of slavery and attracts over 150,000 people each year. 

Last year’s event was forced to go entirely virtual, with all the festivities having to be moved online due to COVID. Now, after much anticipation, organisers have confirmed plans for how the festival will go ahead in 2021 in an announcement made earlier this week.

The festival is run entirely by volunteers who specialise in preserving and protecting Caribbean arts, culture and heritage.

A decision has been made for 2021’s festival to go ahead, but organisers have confirmed the event will only be partly physical this year – with the rest held online.

The uncertainty surrounding the easing of restrictions on June 21 has impacted designers – meaning they haven’t had enough time to design and create their costumes, as they usually would.

In response, people are being asked to get out their old costumes and ‘upcycle’ them instead as part of the Legacy Carnival celebrations – which will see the parade take a digital form this year.

Chairperson and Founder of LWIC, Dr Arthur France, said: “We are passionate about promoting and protecting our cultural heritage and carnival is the legacy of what our fore parents went through.

“Legacy Carnival here we come.

“Bring out your old costumes, upcycle them because we’re jamming still!”

As well as bringing together favourite popular elements like the Carnival Chronicles and Prince and Princess show, this year’s festival will also introduce some new elements like its “Mas Makers” Carnival Volunteers.

This programme incorporates training for a number of committed volunteers to work with and build the Carnival Events Team, and will serve to help grow carnival’s capacity and contribute to continuing to build its legacy.

Vice Chair LWIC, Bernadette Albert, stated: “It is important that we train the next generation of youth about the importance of Carnival; not only because it’s a good time on the road or for a weekend but so that they can learn and in turn teach others about the importance, history and meaning of Carnival.

“This will ensure we protect, preserve and promote our Caribbean heritage and culture in the community.”

The programme for Leeds 2021 Legacy Carnival is as follows:

Celebration of Emancipation Church Service – Sunday, August 1st

Carnival Chronicles – Saturday, August 14th

Prince and Princess Show– Sunday, August 22nd

King and Queen Show – Friday, August 27th

J’ouvert Morning – Monday, August 30th

Virtual Carnival Day – Monday, August 30th

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