Countdown begins for Luton International Carnival with fun-filled cultural extravaganza in store

Popular event returns to town centre on May 27
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Luton will host its 48th International Carnival next month with a fun-filled cultural extravaganza featuring captivating costumes and music, immersive storytelling, interactive shows, and dazzling parades.

The intergenerational family-focused event on May Bank Holiday Monday (May 27) will also include school carnival groups representing Luton’s diverse cultural background. The day will start at 12pm with the parade commencing from Market Hill at 1pm, followed by a string of exciting activities and displays before it ends at 6pm.

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Previous years have seen prominent figures such as Dame Floella Benjamin supporting the event. This year the carnival is honoured to have the support of its 2024 Carnival Champions, Colin Salmon, and Fiona Hawthorne.

All the stops are being pulled out for Luton Carnival 2024All the stops are being pulled out for Luton Carnival 2024
All the stops are being pulled out for Luton Carnival 2024

Colin Salmon, a renowned British actor raised in Luton, has featured in films such as James Bond and TV shows Casualty and EastEnders to name a few and is a seasoned performer and carnival contributor.

Colin said: ”Luton Carnival is important to me for several reasons, I grew up in the area, so this is home. Being of Caribbean descent, carnival is a rich part of my culture and I want other communities to be able to be exposed to and participate in this wonderful celebration.”

His wife, Fiona Hawthorne, a visual artist, added, “I’m also thrilled to be a part of such a vibrant celebration, the efforts made and the community spirit shared is something to feel proud of.”

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Luton Council’s chief executive will join the carnival parade along with members of Luton Borough Council to welcome visitors from across Luton and the rest of the country. As in 2023, the Luton Borough Council Carnival Band will again be handing out carnival arts crafts gift sets, created by UKCCA’s artists, to children in the audience. Attendees can also expect a special musical feature from Colin Salmon’s youth steel band, UFO.

Claudette Whittingham, executive director for UK Centre for Carnival Arts said: “This is an exciting time for Luton, and I am grateful to be able to say I am a part of a tradition that incorporates diversity, accessibility, culture, and unity. The feedback we receive each year is overwhelming and we strive to improve the carnival each time, whilst maintaining our core values of creating togetherness through the various carnival arts.”

Established in 1976, the event started as a small festive celebration of culture and music, slowly gaining traction over time to become one of the biggest events of its kind in the UK.

Hosting the occasion will be artistic production company, UK Centre for Carnival Arts (UKCCA), who have partnered with Luton Borough Council to offer a celebration of diversity and inclusion for all the family. Other partners include the Luton Association of Mas, comprising Luton based carnival groups, The Culture Trust, University of Bedfordshire, The Mall, and Active Luton.

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The carnival will also shed light on a worthy cause and recognise the work of ACLT (African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust) as the Preferred National Charity for the work they have done throughout the years. Claudette added: “We are proud to have them on board as our national charity for the year 2024.”

Visit the website to find out more including a list of sponsors.

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