02/09/2015 Logo v3.231


Now in its fourth year, and its second in the city centre, Leicester’s Cosmopolitan Carnival continues to go from strength to strength. Already a key component of City Festival, numbers attending this year were visibly higher, well into five figures and estimated at around 15,000.

 Unlike other events around the city it does not focus on a narrow cultural group but ambitiously strives to embrace all cultures through multiple art forms and to promote mutual understanding by breaking down racial stereotypes and prejudices. In some cases this is pure performance, in others it is participatory, seeking to engage, entertain and, dare I say, educate in a positive way.

 There is something for everyone at this event whatever age or background and its multi-location format means that there is always something happening throughout the day. The main stage is in Jubilee Square but moving around the site this year was made easier with the secondary performance area being based on the recently completed Cathedral Gardens instead of St. Martin’s Square, thereby making the whole event feel far more connected. Cathedral Gardens made for a pleasant oasis of calm ideal for comedy, spoken word and the sophisticated musical sounds of Hari Trivedi’s tabla, Chinese musicians from the Confucius Institute, Ayolah Hanley and The Kaine Mass Choir.

The High Street dance zone was again popular with the audience regularly four or five deep craning to get a view: Impressive for its sheer diversity. Bollywood, Bhangra and belly-dancing gave a flavour of the east, whilst capoeira and samba from Brazil together with Cuban and Afro-Cuban offerings looked westward. Throw in the Carnival Procession, a Chinese Lion Dance, some Vegas showgirls, a variety of street and break dancers and some gipsy moves and you get the idea. Also on the High Street you could learn and practice some African drumming skills, therapeutic and fun in equal measure. Around the rest of the Carnival site there were other opportunities to learn a variety of new skills ranging from Calligraphy, Rangoli and printing through to juggling and circus tricks.

Jubilee Square’s main stage offered a very different experience this year. In 2014 the event largely featured local musicians who have achieved some national prominence, such as Bizzi Dixon, By the Rivers, Curtis Clacy and Carol Leeming, whereas 2015 offered a mixture of up and coming local bands nominated by some of the city’s foremost music venues combined with some international acts. Anjelica Baylor from the U.S.A. and New Zealand’s MTV award-winning Sola Rosa Sound System were among those more than ably supporting ever-reliable ska headliners, The Paradimes.

For 2016, I’m given to understand that the musical offering will be bigger, better and more diverse with more international acts and a multicultural slant to local acts. I’m looking forward to it already!

As darkness fell the day finished with a film projection onto the walls of the BBC Radio Leicester building enhanced by original music, fire dancers and accompanying pyrotechnics.

I enjoyed that.                                                                  Logo v3.231




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