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Luton Carnival 2009 - All of We is One!

When most people think of carnival in the U.K , it’s natural to jump straight to Europe’s biggest street festival - The Notting Hill Carnival in August, but just a few miles North of London and growing in size and popularity every year is Luton Carnival – Britain’s biggest one-day Carnival. (Luton, outside of, but in close travelling distance from London comes with excellent round the clock transport links.)

Starting back in 1976, Luton Carnival began as a modern street fair as as part of the borough centenary celebrations and developed into a spectacular display of today’s modern culture and diversity. The carnival has continued to develop and evolve and in 1998 the Luton carnival acquired International status and received the largest single lottery award for carnival development.

Besides being influenced by the Greatest Show on Earth (Trinidad and Tobago Carnival) Luton’s modern carnival showcases influences from Europe, all parts of the Caribbean, South America and South East Asia. Today’s carnival is the only event in the town where you will find a blend of Irish, Caribbean, African, Asian, English and Latin American sounds and a variety of dance, food and entertainment all on the same day, superbly reflecting the diverse mix of cultures in Luton!

Luton Carnival also proudly pulls together the community through the UKCCA’s Marsh Farm Carnival connections programme which delivers a programme of creative arts and regeneration activities. They typically target black and ethnic minority communities and in the last 3 years has proudly benefited 300 young people through youth inclusion and crime diversionary projects.

The carnival takes place for just one day on the Spring Bank Holiday in May and runs from 12 noon until 7pm with various activities, the main parade, entertainment stands and a variety of sound systems. Around 40 different groups, schools, societies and communities take part.

Luton cultural services trust’s arts development unit, together with partners UK Centre for Carnival Arts ( UKCCA) and Luton Sounds Forum, have been busy planning the carnival for the past year, have extended the route and are expecting over 100,000 people.

Everyone will meet in local Wardown Park, where the procession moves off at 1.30pm.The Park will again host the main stage and sound sites as well as exhibitions, information, workshops and performances promoted by UKCCA and Luton Cultural Services Trust. There are 11 sound systems boasting salsa, reggae, funky house, jazz, soul, soca, world music, liquid funk and Roots.

The main parade travels through the town and brings you back to Wardown park to enjoy the music, food and entertainment and where you can also visit the UKCCA marquee to see spectacular displays of carnival costumes and be educated about carnival!!!

By linking up with the UKCCA you not only learn about the carnival and the major plans the team have to extend their cultural event but you can also get access to the After party (essential!!) and learn more about events being held to promote Carnival and Caribbean culture.

We’ll be back next year for more!

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