The biggest-ever carnival to take place in Harrogate's history will take place in just a few days' time.
Set to be held in the Valley Gardens, on Saturday, July 27, organisers of the free family-friendly Carnival are confident it will give both Notting Hill and Leeds West Indian carnivals a run for their money in terms of colourful costumes, live entertainment and fantastic food.
And local traders and residents are being invited to play a role, too, in this fantastic day.
Carnival is being brought to life through a commission from Harrogate Borough Council and is a unique day for the town and wider District as part of a cultural programme to herald the arrival of September’s UCI Road World Cycling Championships, when “Harrogate Welcomes the World”.
The funding to deliver this event – something the likes of Harrogate has never seen before - is from the Leeds City Region Business Rates Pool, and has been allotted specifically to support cultural activities whilst the global spotlight is on the region.
Featuring street theatre, dancing, food, music, interactive workshops and fun by the float load, Carnival will feature street theatre, dancing, food, music, interactive workshops and float-loads of fun.
The bandstand will be the sound stage for an eclectic line-up of DJs and performers guaranteed to get feet moving to hip hop, afrobeat, Latin, Jamaican groove and the irresistibly smooth sounds of the Buena Vista Social Club.
And when it comes to dancing, revellers will get the chance to learn Egyptian tanoura, Turkish belly dancing or Indian dance.
Almost 250 artists – and seven top chefs – will be performing both in the town and the Valley Gardens from 10.30am until 5.30pm for the tens-of-thousands of visitors the family free-day is predicted to attract.
This unrivalled spectacular commences with an opening parade bringing an explosion of colour and sound to the streets of the spa town as it announces it is well and truly ready to “welcome the world”!
And to help Harrogate get in the party spirit, Harrogate International Festivals staff and volunteers have given the to concrete steps opposite the Convention Centre between Kings Road and Cheltenham Mount a colourful continental makeover.
Drawing inspiration from cities around the world, the festival team party spent two hours clearing weeds and litter from the walkway leading from Back Cheltenham Mount to Kings Road, before spending another two hours painting its 19 steps with vibrant colours.
Harrogate International Festivals’ chief executive Sharon Canavar said: “In two months’ time Harrogate will welcome the world when its hosts the cycling equivalent to football’s world cup.
“Carnival marks the start of the countdown to when Harrogate will become the epicentre of world cycling, bringing with it tens-of-thousands of people watching and competing in the nine-day tournament."
“Additionally, the event will attract an estimated worldwide TV audience of in excess of 150 million with all eyes fixed on our wonderful town.
“And because carnivals are full of colour and vibrancy, we thought this walkway could do with a little pre-carnival makeover. It has given the area a real lift, it’s got people talking, smiling and taking photographs.
“And if we can achieve that with a few tins of environmentally-friendly spray paint, imagine what impact Carnival will have? It’s going to be a brilliant day and it’s our chance to shout loud that we are ready to ‘welcome the world’ and all are well and truly welcome?”
The HIF team is currently speaking with local schools, bands and entertainers to secure their participation in both the parade through Harrogate town centre and then into the Valley Gardens, and there has already been significant interest from individuals in its “BEE part of it” initiative, details of which are available from its website, https://harrogateinternationalfestivals.com/
And for local traders, who want to be a part of what will be a fantastic free day for the whole family, there is still time for them to get in touch.
Further details about Carnival, including performers and performance times, will be available from the Harrogate International Festivals website at https://harrogateinternationalfestivals.com/