The Best UK Carnival’s & Why You Should Attend!

The UK is home to some of the biggest and best carnival celebrations in the UK.

Notting Hill Carnival

7 uk carnivals

Notting Hill Carnival London is the biggest street festival in Europe that gets over two million people attending. Notting Hill Carnival is a yearly celebration that embraces London’s diverse Caribbean community. The yearly celebration takes place over two days in the West London neighbourhood of Notting Hill.

Notting Hill Carnival features a mas band parade full of incredible bright and colourful Notting Hill Carnival Costumes. There is lots of live Caribbean music like steelpan bands and over 40 different sound systems set up all around the area that pump out the soca, calypso, reggae and other Caribbean music tunes all day.

Notting Hill Carnival food is a must try. There are also loads of food and drink vendors selling delicious Caribbean cuisine including jerk chicken or rice and beans. There is also an excess amount of rum that is consumed during Notting Hill Carnival. Millions of people spend the day dancing, singing, drinking, socialising and having the time of their lives.

Notting Hill Carnival is not just about the adults having a good time, but the kids also get their own carnival day. The day before the adult mas band parade is a children’s parade and there are lots of activities on for the whole family. The family day also brings out huge crowds for a fun filled day.

Read the Ultimate Guide to Notting Hill Carnival.

Read our 13 Tips for Doing Notting Hill Carnival Right!

Luton International Carnival

luton carnival

Luton International Carnival is a fantastic annual one day carnival celebration in Luton, Bedfordshire. Currently the carnival will be celebrating its 42nd year and has over 140,000 revellers hitting the streets to celebrate. Luton Carnival is the largest one-day carnival in the UK and the second largest carnival overall, second only to Notting Hill Carnival.

Luton International Carnival is commissioned by Luton Borough Council and artistically produced by UK Centre for Carnival Arts. Luton International Carnival is  a day of friendly, family, fun for all! Everyone is welcome to join in the celebration! This FREE celebration has entertainment for the entire family to enjoy.

It is a zealous day celebration that is about embracing multiculturalism and celebrating some of the cities cherished cultures. Luton International Carnival features international music, dance, artistry and delicious cuisines.

Read The Ultimate Guide to Luton International Carnival here. 

Liverpool Brazilica Festival

7 uk carnivals

The Liverpool Brazilica Festival is the largest carnival celebration in Europe that is all about Brazilian culture. So instead of mas band parades the festival is more about samba parades. This is actually a fairly new carnival celebration and has only been taking place since July 2008, after the city of Liverpool became the European Capital of Culture.

The Liverpool Brazilica Festival takes all its inspiration from Rio Carnival with samba parades taking place through the city streets. The festival embraces Brazilian culture not just samba parades but also Brazilian food, music, dance, film and art with events taking place all over the city that build up to the highlight of carnival which is the Samba Carnival Parade that occurs in Williamson Square.

Read The Ultimate Guide to Liverpool Brazilica Festival. 

Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival

bridgwater carnival
Timeless Images, Bridgwater

Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival is one of the largest illuminated carnival processions in Europe, and is held annually on the first Saturday of November. The 2020 carnival is on Saturday 7 November. This carnival attracts over 100,000 people from all around the West County, Britain and abroad. This is an annual carnival that is filled with brightly lit floats, colourful performers, talented acts and of course, squibbers.

Dating back as early as 1847, spectators can expect to see around 40 spectacular illuminated carts, that are up to 30 meters long, and each covered in lights, with dancers performing and musical acts. These large vehicles pay homage to films, books, places, people and historical moments. The carnival finishes with the famous act of squibbing, which is where a group of people light poles in the shape of brooms and fireworks shoot on out. It is a magical and enchanting carnival and one not to miss!

Read all about Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival here. 

Preston Caribbean Carnival

7 uk carnivals

Preston is the longest running culture celebration in Preston. Every year tens of thousands of people come to celebrate carnival in Preston. It is a summer Caribbean carnival that takes place in June every year.

There is a big Caribbean parade filled with colourful costumes, Caribbean tunes and musicians. Preston Carnival is for people of all ages and is all about celebrating diversity. It is a fun day for the whole family and worth checking out.

Read The Ultimate Guide to Preston Caribbean Carnival. 

Leicester Caribbean Carnival

7 uk carnivals

Leicester Caribbean Carnival is a colourful summer Caribbean carnival that takes place every year in June. The event is all about celebrating the diversity of the Leicester community. There are costumed bands, colourful costumes, street parades, street parties, lots of food drinks and fun.

The Leicester Caribbean Carnival first started back in 1985 and attracts over 100,000 people every year with 30,000 of them being visitors. It has become one of the biggest and most popular carnival celebrations in the UK.

Here is your ultimate guide to the Leicester Caribbean Carnival.

Leeds West Indian Carnival

7 uk carnivals

The Leeds West Indian Carnival is actually the longest running authentic Caribbean carnival event in all of Europe. It was the very first Caribbean Carnival to cross the pond that featured authentic Caribbean costumes, Caribbean music and a mas band procession. The carnival is attended by about 150,000 people every year.

All those elements are still part of Leeds West Indian Carnival today. The Leeds West Indian Carnival showcases the best of Caribbean customs and culture and is the most colourful and vibrant event to take place in Leeds. The Leeds West Indian Carnival always takes place on the Monday August Bank Holiday. 

There are numerous Carnival events during the Leeds West Indian Carnival that showcase Caribbean culture but the main event and the day when the whole city embraces carnival fever. The parade is filled with amazing costumes, floats and dances. There are loads of stages all about providing entertainment as well as food and drink vendors.

Whitley Bay Carnival

black and white carnival

Carnival in Whitley Bay is all about celebrating the start of summer and about everyone joining in and having fun. It is about fostering and encouraging community spirit in Whitley Bay. The Whitley Bay Carnival is a fun family friendly carnival that is FREE and has loads of activities for everyone to enjoy.

There are lots of activities for the whole family to enjoy from live entertainment to rides. The highlight of the Whitley Bay Carnival is the fun and colourful carnival parade. This attracts large crowds who come out to witness the spectacle and have some seaside fun.

Read all about the Whitley Bay Carnival here. 

Isle of Wight Mardi Gras

isle of wight carnival

The Isle of Wight Mardi Gras is an annual carnival celebration that is held in Ryde, UK every last Saturday in June. The carnival was inspired by New Orleans Mardi Gras with a little fusion from Latin and Caribbean carnivals.

What is Mardi Gras? Well Mardi Gras actually means ‘Fat Tuesday’ in French, which is the day before Ash Wednesday, the official start of Lent. Around the world there has been a tradition of feasting and celebration known as Mardi Gras or Carnival that is associated with the Catholic tradition of Lent.

Whilst this Mardi Gras celebration is not associated with Lent, it still embodies the spirit of carnivalIsle of Wight Mardi Gras is one of the biggest events of the year on the island. It is all about uniting the community and putting on an event that everyone can enjoy and create memories that you can hold on it.

Read all about the Isle of Wight Mardi Gras here. 

Northampton Carnival

miami

The Northampton Carnival is a community event for the whole family. Local organisations, businesses, schools and charities come together to participate in attending and participating in the biggest annual summer event in Northampton town.

The Northampton Carnival is a multicultural event that allows you to experience the diverse lifestyles and cultures that are unique to the Northampton community.

The Northampton Carnival has two parts – the carnival parade that is filled with floats, troupes, dancers and performers. The other part is the live performances and street vendors selling arts, crafts and food from all around the world.

Read all about Northamptom Carnival here. 

Wells Carnival

7 uk carnivals

The Wells Carnival is said to be the biggest illuminated carnival in the world. It has huge floats that parade through the medieval streets surrounded by street performers, musicians, dancers all wearing stunning and incredibly inventive costumes.

The carnival parade occurs at night therefore the parade is a blaze of colourful lights, music and dancing which create an enchanting and beautiful atmosphere. The carnival is free to attend, and it raises money for Charity.

Birmingham Pride

birmingham pride

Birmingham Pride is the biggest 2-day LGBTQI celebration in the UK. Birmingham Pride is an annual celebration of love that knows no bounds, an LGBTQI rights protest and celebration of sexuality. Every year Birmingham Pride attracts about 75,000 people who come to celebrate. The theme for the 2019 Birmingham Pride is ‘Love Out Loud’.

The carnival is more than just a celebration it is also about educating people on social issues that affect the LGBTQ community and boosting the local economy. Even today in 2019 the LGBT+ community still faces persecution and oppression and teen suicide continues to be a big problem, it is the time to ‘Love Out Loud’!

Read all about Birmingham Pride here. 

Aldeburgh Carnival

7 uk carnivals

In the beautiful seaside town of Aldeburgh Carnival brings the city alive. The carnival dates back to the 1800’s and the carnival stems from a celebration that was known as Ye Old Marine Regatta. In 1927 carnival celebrations were added to the regatta event and today carnival is a good legacy of the old regatta.

Aldeburgh Carnival celebrates English tradition and features a carnival parade as well as shows, live music, a 10k run, fireworks and lots of different games, foods and drinks.

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