Leeds & West Yorkshire

Leeds West Indian Carnival plans for marking its 50th year

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Media captionAn ambitious programme of events is organised to mark the 50th year of Leeds Carnival.

Plans have been announced for the "oldest carnival in Europe" to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

The West Indian Carnival in Leeds was launched in 1967 and once again will take over Potternewton Park for the August bank holiday weekend.

An exhibition recording its heritage, political and cultural legacy is planned for the city's Tetley gallery.

There will also be a week of new plays commemorating carnival at West Yorkshire Playhouse.

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Additionally, it has been announced that an illuminated night carnival will kick-off the annual arts and light festival Light Night in October.

A recreation of the Sun Goddess, the first Leeds Carnival Queen costume, will be featured at the exhibition from August to October.

The celebration of food, music and culture will culminate again in a parade through Chapeltown and Harehills.

An estimated 160,000 revellers attended last year's carnival, organisers said.

Arthur France initiated it after becoming homesick for his native St Kitts and Nevis.

Image caption The 50th event was launched at Leeds Town Hall
Image caption Arthur France started the celebrations in Leeds in 1967

Mr France, head of the organising committee, said: "When you come to carnival it is electric, so many things going on, beautiful costumes, beautiful colours, beautiful music."

However, attempts to bring the parade into the city centre have been shelved.

Mr France said he was "very sad and upset" at the council decision but added that it would not "dampen my spirits".

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: "A lot of events are happening on the bank holiday weekend and with the advice it just wouldn't be possible."

Image caption Potternewton Park was bathed in sun for a previous carnival parade
Image caption The carnival parade starts and ends in Potternewton Park
Image caption One of the largest outfits of 2016 was worn by the Leeds West Indian Carnival queen

Ms Blake added: "The oldest carnival in Europe is here in Leeds. We are so keen to make sure as a city we come together and everyone celebrates an incredible achievement."

She praised Mr France as a "legend" that had made "an absolutely fantastic contribution heading up a brilliant team of people".

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