Oxford's biggest public event Cowley Road Carnival will return next year after a three-year absence.

The team behind it said they were "thrilled" to announce carnival is back on the road and will take place on Sunday July 9, 2023.

The theme will be “Our Nature Our Future”.

The carnival usually sees around 50,000 people cramming into the streets of Oxford to be dazzled with live music, DJs, performances, spoken word and dance.

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Next year's plans include the famous Cowley Road procession, eco floats, street parties and House Floats which were introduced in 2021 and were the first of their kind.

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There will also be workshops for individuals and community groups to make their own carnival costumes and the opportunity to take part in the procession.

Internationally renowned carnival expert Pax Nindi, who is behind the event, is now acting carnival chairperson.

Pax said: "It is an irreplaceable highlight in the calendar for so many people here in Oxford city and beyond.

"We are currently on a fundraising exercise and seeking sponsorship which we need to achieve.”

And Zaheer Qureshi, a board member for many years, added: “Since its inception, working with its stakeholders, this carnival has always been a key catalyst for building bridges between community, schools, youth services, cultural and disability groups.” 

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The in-person carnival was cancelled for two years due to the pandemic.

In 2020, when the country was put into lockdown, it became 'virtual'. People who live in Cowley were also asked to make 'window lanterns' to light up the street.

In 2021, its 20th year, the event was replaced with smaller street parties and another virtual event.

But once Covid restrictions were lifted, 2022 could have been the first time in years that the carnival was to go ahead in person.

However, Cowley Road Works (CRW), the charity which has put together Oxford's biggest public event for more than 20 years, said they were taking a break to 'consider the future'.

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It said: "We believe that community driven in-person events and celebrations will be crucial for community recovery and cohesion post the Covid 19 pandemic, and isolation it has caused.

"This necessarily takes time and means not delivering Carnival in 2022. It would be a disservice to our past successes not take the time to do this properly."

But it admitted it was also working "with a more challenging funding environment."

Board member Sarah Conor said: “To locals, the three-year absence left a social, celebratory and creative hole in Oxford which we can’t wait to fill next year.”

Anyone interested in getting involved either as a performer, stallholder, volunteer, to assist with social media, join the board or become a sponsor can go to the Cowley Road Carnival website.



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This story was written by Miranda Norris, she joined the team in 2021 and covers news across Oxfordshire as well as news from Witney.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Miranda.Norris@newsquest.co.uk. Or find her on Twitter: @Mirandajnorris

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