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Olympic carnival events will light up the East this summer

  • Date: 31 May 2011
  • Area: National, South East
Luton Carnival 2010

Performer at Luton Carnival 2010. Credit: Amiel Barrimond

An exciting series of carnival showcase events will shine a light on the East of England this summer in the run up to London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Funded by Arts Council England and Legacy Trust UK, and led by the UK Centre for Carnival Arts (UKCCA) in Luton, Carnival Crossroads is a unique 18 month project which will culminate in a parade at the Luton International Carnival 2012. Carnival Crossroads is part of the London 2012 Festival, which is the finale of the Cultural Olympiad.

The five showcase events in summer 2011 for Carnival Crossroads have been developed with 500 young people from across the region, based in Luton, Cambridge, Ipswich, Norwich and Southend. These young participants have all been trained in performance and dance techniques by a team of choreographers, with a routine and costumes inspired by Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

Paul Anderson MBE, CEO of the UKCCA, commented: '[The theme was] selected for its relevance to today's culture and the Eastern region. This will help the UKCCA to strengthen the establishment of a UK carnival brand and identity.'

Carnival Crossroads was conceived in November 2010, when the internationally renowned Keith Khan was appointed Artistic Director for the project.

The project officially launched at this year's Luton International Carnival on 30 May 2011, when the first group of 100 participants from Luton paraded from Wardown Park through Luton town centre.

The next showcase will mark the opening of the Cambridge Strawberry Fair on 4 June where the 100 strong Carnival Crossroads group from Cambridge will lead the crowds from the centre of town at 11am to Midsummer Common.

On 24 June, the Ipswich participants will parade at the opening of the Ip Art Festival. The group here will perform along the Waterfront from 8.15-9pm against a backdrop of barge races on the river.

In Norwich on 9 July, the Carnival Crossroads contingent will participate in the Lord Mayor's Parade and, on 20 August the 100 performers from Southend will participate in the night time carnival passing along the promenade from 7.30-10pm.

On 7 July 2012, all 500 of the regional performers will come together as a 'super group' at Luton International Carnival, as part of the London 2012 Festival. The aim is to showcase carnival arts, and its ability to transform and connect diverse communities. 

For this final, two spectacular floats will be part of the parade, designed by visiting international artists from Brazil who will work alongside community artists at the UKCCA.

Helen Lax, Regional Director, Arts Council England, commented: 'The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games offers an unprecedented opportunity for the UK to cement its reputation as a world-leader in culture. Arts Council is delighted to support projects such as this that celebrate creativity, expression and imagination, and that reach out to the broadest audiences. Carnival is a truly celebratory artform and one that brings people together.

The UK Centre for Carnival Arts continues to blaze a trail for carnival throughout the country, and these summer showcase events give people from across the East of England an opportunity to get an early peek at a key event that will represent the best of the country as part of the London 2012 Festival.'

You can learn more about Carnival Crossroads at: