Local Voices

The Leeds West Indian Carnival holds a special place in peoples’ hearts. It has been running since 1967 and many people have been involved since its inception. A diverse and passionate community has built up around the event.

For this project, I have collected the memories and experiences of attendees from a variety of backgrounds. Some have been involved in the carnival since childhood and others have only recently started going.

These are the local voices of the carnival and it shows how important it is to them. Hopefully, the carnival will continue to thrive and new people will gain a passion for it. Here are some of the standout quotes from these interviews:

“I love the carnival! I went to the king and queen show and I’ve been in it before!” – SB

“I remember it always being such a happy, positive and exciting atmosphere and it was so much fun being part of the troupe on the road.” – SW

“When I was younger, the carnival was something we all looked forward to. It was the event of the year. I remember being only 3 or 4 years old and being a resident of Harehills Avenue. I lived only a few doors away from Potternewton Park and I would watch the carnival going past and be in awe.
“I still have vivid memories of the music and costumes. Later, being able to attend the event myself as a young adult, the atmosphere was amazing and the sense of community was fantastic. Old and young alike and different cultures coming together.” – LS
Basically, my whole life has revolved around the carnival, pretty much. My mother has been a member of the West Indian Carnival Committee for 30 years now. Since a young age, I’ve been involved in costume making, especially with my mum. When I was around 10 years old, I started doing steel pan lessons and that’s one of the first times I experienced music as a musician.
“I play the keyboard in a band with Stella [Latras] called Caution Collective. To be honest, I don’t think I’d be doing what I’m doing now if it wasn’t for the carnival and the influence it’s had on me in my life. All the youth outreach programs have been valuable.
“I think it is good that Leeds comes together as a community. There are quite a lot of people that I know whose only experience of different cultures is from the carnival. Different music, different costumes, hearing all the different accents of the island, tasting all the different foods… I think the opportunity for people to experience different cultures is another thing I’ve noticed that’s positive about the carnival.” – SH
(Words: Eli Smith)