Summers haven’t felt the same in Bristol without St Pauls Carnival. We’ve missed seeing people pack the streets: dancing to soundsystems, wearing brightly coloured costumes, and enjoying some of the best food and music for miles around. But the city is finally back on track. 2023 will see the full return of the annual celebration of African and Caribbean culture.
This will be the first full Carnival since 2019. The event moved online during 2020 and 2021, due the Covid-19 pandemic, while last year’s carnival was remarkably scaled down. Instead of a full public carnival, organizers introduced a smaller music, arts and community event, called Back A Yard.
The full Carnival procession will take place on July 1, with more than 100,000 people due to celebrate in St Pauls. But the events programme will kick-off on June 22 and mark the 75th anniversary of HMT Empire Windrush arriving in Britain. Several fringe events – under the theme of Learning From Legends – will celebrate and educate Afro-Caribbean culture and heritage before the main event.
“We’re well underway with our planning for the return of Carnival after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic,” said LaToyah McAllister-Jones, executive director of St Pauls Carnival. “This year was always going to be a big one but is all the more important as we celebrate the lives and contributions so many people have made to Carnival.”
The carnival will also honour the 60th anniversary of the Bristol Bus Boycott. Particularly carnival organiser Roy Hackett MBE who passed away last August. In 1963, he challenged Bristol Omnibus Company’s racial discrimination in recruitment by introducing a boycott of the bus company. This in turn helped pave the way for the Race Relations Act 1965.
Organisers will announce full programme for St Pauls Carnival very soon. If you’d like to learn more, and potentially get involved with the event, you can head to the website here.