AFRICAN dancers and rock, reggae and marching bands arrived in East Oxford yesterday for the Cowley Road Carnival.
Last year more than 35,000 people joined in the carnival and this year tens of thousands of people enjoyed the party in the sunshine.
More than 730 primary school children, brass band players, religious and political groups danced and chanted in a parade from The Plain roundabout to St Mary and St John Church, from 2pm to 3pm.
Leading the way were children from Pegasus Youth Theatre and their life-like Mini robot puppet inspired by Oxford’s Mini plant – the carnival’s main sponsor.
At their head was nine-year-old Elsie Tyrrell who had said she had never led a procession before and was “very excited”.
As she joined the parade with her students, Pegasus Theatre manager Yasmin Sidhwa said: “It is an amazing experience, so many young people walking, being watched and enjoying all the fun. The theme this year is faces of Oxford, and we are the face of Oxford.”
Al-Amin grocery store manager Nazim Uddin and his assistant Samad Ali made a killing selling tropical jack fruit.
Mr Uddin, 31, said: “It’s been fantastic – a great day.
“The carnival brings everyone together. Oxford is a multicultural city anyway, but this shows off different culture, different vibes, different music _ things you wouldn’t normally see.”
- Al-Amin grocers manager Nazim Uddin and assistant Samad Ali sell jack fruit
More than 35 street traders helped fund the carnival organising committee Cowley Road Works, which raised a total of £100,000 to ensure the carnival went ahead.
The road was closed from 8am and bands performed at the Corridor club, the City Arms, The Cape of Good Hope and other stages from midday.
George Hopkinson, 28, travelled from London to see the carnival for the first time with friends from Oxford.
Mr Hopkinson, who works in marketing, said: “It’s so nice to see loads of new stuff you wouldn’t normally see and everyone get together.”
Oxford City Council donated £30,000 to the carnival.
Council leader Bob Price, who watched the parade with wife Joanna and daughter Isabelle, 13, said: “The quality of the parade and all the bands is the best it has ever been.
“We always get good weather by not doing it the same weekend as Glastonbury.”
Among the parade’s dancers was 19-year-old student Sandra Dipate, from Oxford, who was inspired by last year’s carnival to organise her own All Around Africa troupe.
- All Around Africa dancers Cynthia Wangwe, Sandra Dipate and Anesu Wazara
Miss Dipate, originally from Botswana, said: “The carnival is all about embracing cultural diversity, but last year I realised there weren’t actually that many groups from Africa so I made a dance group.”
Performers from the East Oxford Culturevators project made polar bear heads to wear in the parade and carried a life-size polar bear model, inspired by Oxford author Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights trilogy.
Helen Jacobs, 35, said: “We wouldn’t miss this for the world.”
Procession organiser Anya Fox said: “I love the carnival because there are so many kinds of people.
- Anya Fox
“It’s all about the heart and soul of this area, more than any other show I do.”
The carnival was first held in 2001 when it attracted just 500 people.
It was cancelled in 2006 and in 2011 was held in South Park.
Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS, SPORT and JAYDEN depending on what services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed.
Our top stories
9:00am Saturday 25th October 2014
BIKE safety campaigners have warned that cyclists are risking their lives, after an Oxford Mail survey found more than half of them were riding without lights.
5:18pm Saturday 25th October 2014
A FOOTBALL match was abandoned this afternoon after a bottle was thrown onto the pitch.
1:40pm Saturday 25th October 2014
With an extra hour to enjoy - or recover with - tonight is the perfect night to celebrate one of Oxford's biggest nights of music
9:30am Saturday 25th October 2014
Danny Rose is targeting a move into mid-table today as Oxford United visit Carlisle United in search of a third win in eight days.
9:30am Saturday 25th October 2014
FILM buffs were given a taste of how movies used to be watched as they turned out for a silent screening in Witney.
8:49am Saturday 25th October 2014
Police have said the 21-year-old Oxford University student who was reported missing has been found safe and well.