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On Sunday 3 September, following two years’ preparation involving local groups and artists, Hull, City of Culture, hosted the city’s inaugural Hull International Carnival. The parade set off from King Edward Square, and moved through the town centre to finish at Queens Gardens. There were giant sea shells blasting soca rhythms, live samba bands, Rampage Mas costumes and participants from the city’s many diverse communities. The carnival was directed by international carnival expert Pax Nindi, led by chairman, Doctor Tapan Mahapatra, and was aptly hosted in partnership with the Hull Freedom Festival director, Mikey Martins.
During August, the carnival hosted workshops with Afro Fashions and ‘Junkanoo Commandos’ visiting artists from the Bahamas who worked with Hull artists and local people to create a banner depicting this year’s theme: ‘Sharing Cultural Traditions’. Links to carnival arts and emancipation are deeply rooted in many UK and international carnivals, and Freedom Festival is a legacy of the Wilberforce 2007 campaign, which celebrated the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade led by Hull-born MP William Wilberforce in 1807. This year’s carnival was just a small launch event, supported by Freedom Festival, Global Carnivalz and a grant from National Lottery funding through the Arts Council England’s ‘Grants for the Arts’ programme. The goal is for the carnival to grow in the future. For further information go to hullinternationalcarnival.org.uk.