Cardiff Carnival goes ahead without Big Weekend

June 8, 2012 No Comments »

Performers at this year's Cardiff Carnival will include Thelma Lait, with performance group The Carnival Crew

A cultural carnival is aiming to inject a bit of anti-austerity fever into Cardiff this summer – after it appeared that it was facing its final curtain.

Cardiff Carnival – which calls itself Wales’ answer to Notting Hill – announced its line-up for its first year without the Big Weekend, which was cancelled due to a clash with the Olympics.

The festival’s artistic director Steve Fletcher, from the South Wales Intercultural Community Arts (Swica), said that this year’s carnival represented the “biggest single change” that had ever happened to the event.

And he admitted that organisers thought it was “the end of the road” when its long-time partner The Big Weekend event was shelved – before they landed sponsorship with Pembrokeshire-based leisure retreat the Bluestone National Park Resort.

The event will now go ahead as planned on Saturday, August 4.

Mr Fletcher said: “In all honesty, in October last year we thought that was the end of the road. There was not a penny available to make it happen.

“But the amazing thing is that after 22 years, we have got several generations of the same families doing this.

“You’ve got gran, mum and the kids involved.”

The festival this year features Swica’s own performance group which will showcase exotic costumes accompanied by Brazilian-style flamboyant costumes and drums, Wales’ biggest brass band collective in Wonderbrass and will be MC’d by street entertainer Mario Morris.

It will also feature dance outfit Ballet Nimba, led by Guinean choreographer Idrissa Camara, the Cardiff-based Zumba Works group and a family-orientated burlesque troupe – with the festivities culminating in a day-long open-air stage in The Hayes in central Cardiff.

It will also replace the traditional parade from Cardiff Bay to the city centre with a finale parade leaving City Hall at 4pm and stopping for an elaborate Street Jam on High Street.

And Mr Fletcher said that the return of the event marked a turning point – and said that it had plans to expand in the next three years.

He said that the event, founded in 1990, had already grown into the biggest carnival in Wales, with around 1,000 participants.

“It is about flying in the face of adversity – people are having a tough time but if we lose the art of celebration that would be worse,” he added.

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