Banding together to get carnival swinging

WE may still be in autumn, but excitement is building for one of the highlights of the summer.

The organisers of Oxford’s Cowley Road Carnival are busy planning for next year’s event – and have launched a fundraising drive to ensure it goes ahead.

It gets underway next Friday with a night of music at the O2 Academy, in Cowley Road. The event is called Jouvert! – a traditional Carribbean name for a carnival warm-up party – and features dance act Death of Hi-Fi, synth-pop band Secret Rivals, reggae DJ Aidan Larkin, and the Ran Kan Kan Cuban big band. Further guests are expected.

Organisers hope to raise between £50,000 and £90,000 before the event, to avoid a repeat of this year’s disappointment, when it failed to take place. The previous year’s carnival took place in South Park.

Karen David, a Trustee of Cowley Street Works, the charity which organises the carnival, said: “This looks like being a great event which will get everyone in the carnival mood. We wanted bands who are really popular in the area and who are supporters of carnival – which is what we have got.

“Carnival is a really important event for community organisations and charities in East Oxford and provides a showcase for lots of organisations. It is the only event of this size that brings the whole community together.

“However, we do need to raise funds to pay for the infrastructure.

“We are doing everything we possibly can to bring carnival back to Cowley Road and will do what we can with the money we have.”

Money is needed to make road closures, provide facilities and security and pay for insurance.

Further fundraising events include a vintage movie night at the Ultimate Picture Palace on December 21, at which a group of musicians called The Mighty Wurlitzer will play a live soundtrack to a silent Charlie Chaplin film; a stand-up comedy night at the Pegasus theatre in February; and a dinner and auction in April.

Aidan Larkin, of the Skylarkin Soundsystem, has been a keen supporter of the carnival for many years. He said: “There’s no question, people need to get behind Cowley Road Carnival. For everyone who has moaned about it not happening this is your chance to make sure it does.”

Andy Hill of Death of Hi-Fi, said: “We are excited to be playing the fundraiser as Cowley Carnival is such a big part of the community.

“It’s great to be able to help out and give something back to a vibrant scene that has given so much to us. People need to come along, not just because it’s a great benefit to the area but also because it’s going to be an amazing night.”

Tickets for Jouvert! are £10 from wegottickets.com

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