St Pauls Carnival programme kicks off for 2019 with theme announcement

The St Pauls Carnival has announced that its theme for 2019 will be ‘Our journey’.

The iconic celebration of Bristol’s African-Caribbean culture will return on Saturday, July 6, after the success of last year’s event following a three-year absence.

Chosen in response to the well documented journey of the Windrush generation who came to England from the 1940s onwards the Our Journey theme pays homage to the generation who came together in Bristol and set up organisations and groups to support their new lives in the UK.

The theme will be brought to life across every aspect of the event from dance, music and poetry to songs, the procession and the school’s programme.

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The event will chart the challenges faced by the Windrush generation from the 1940s to the present day and will chart the historic significance of the SS Empire Windrush, which marked the beginning of the post war mass migration after an invitation by the Queen to journey to the UK. The theme will reflect the subsequent challenges faced including racism and inequality leading to the Bristol bus boycott and subsequent valuable contribution to the city from Caribbean music, food, tradition, skills and dance which led to the founding of the St Pauls Carnival - a way to express and celebrate roots and culture and a way to break down racial barriers across the wider Bristol community.

This year’s event will be led by St Pauls Carnival’s newly appointed executive director LaToyah McAllister-Jones, a Bristol-based change management consultant former head of operations of the community interest company behind Ujima Radio.

The 2019 carnival will build on last year’s 50th anniversary celebrations which saw the carnival committee prioritise inclusivity and community engagement and successfully dispel the negative preconceptions built up over previous years.

The return of the event after a three-year hiatus marked a fresh start for the carnival which has a strong educational focus alongside the fun of the day itself which sees a flamboyant procession, live music and food stalls spread throughout St Pauls.

La Toyah said: “St Pauls Carnival is a vibrant expression of our city’s wonderful diversity and an event that brings dozens of communities together. It is a chance to celebrate both our similarities and differences which is why we felt a theme of ‘Our journey’ would work so well for 2019.

“Through this theme, people can explore their own life journeys, backgrounds and heritage and perhaps even more importantly, those of other people’s.

“This fits with the ethos of carnival which is primarily a celebration of Bristol’s African-Caribbean culture but also bangs the drum for diversity and inclusivity on a wider scale.”

Last year saw around 100,000 people descend upon the area to admire the procession and enjoy the stages and sound systems on offer.

The 2018 event was lauded as a great success with organisers prioritising the safety and enjoyment of those who attended alongside a legacy and education programme to involve schools across the city as well as local businesses and other stakeholders. It also received a Bristol Life award for event of the year.

The Art Council England and Bristol City Council have pledged their support for the 2019 event and further sponsors and financial supporters will be announced soon.