Leeds West Indian Carnivals celebrate 50 years

Carnival group Pure Elegance get into their stride

Carnival group Pure Elegance get into their stride - Credit: Joan Russell

Thousands of people came together to celebrate the half century of the West Indian Carnival in Leeds. Photographer Joan Russell captures the colourful scene.

It must have been one of the biggest if not the biggest Leeds West Indian Carnivals staged yet when many thousands of people, young and old, joined in the carefree celebrations marking the event’s 50th anniversary.

The noisy, colourful parade made its way through the Chapeltown area of the city, starting and ending in Potternewton Park. The carnival was described as a huge tribute to the strength of the community by council leader Judith Blake. She said: ‘We’re incredibly proud of the tremendous success and longevity it has enjoyed as a standard bearer for cultural diversity and community togetherness.’

The carnival was launched in 1967 as a way of keeping Caribbean culture and heritage alive in the city by a group of West Indian students. Organisers say it was the first in the country to incorporate all three essential elements of authentic West Indian carnival – costumes, music and a masquerade procession – and is Europe’s longest running Caribbean carnival parade.