St Pauls Carnival

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St Paul's Carnival
GenreReggae, World music, Folk music, Hip hop, Poetry, Dub, Visual arts
DatesFirst Saturday of July
Location(s)St Pauls, Bristol, United Kingdom
Years activesince 1968
WebsiteSt Pauls Carnival

St Paul's Carnival is an annual African Caribbean carnival held, usually on the first Saturday of July, in St Paul's, Bristol, England. The celebration began life in 1968[1] as the St Paul's Festival, when the idea was "to create an event to help improve relationships between the European, African, Caribbean and Asian inhabitants of the area."[2] Called the St Paul's Carnival since 1991,[2] the event includes a masquerade procession with highly ornate and colourful costumes and floats from local schools and cultural associations, a stage for professional performers, sound systems in neighbouring streets and a range of stalls selling food from a wide range of cultures. In the preceding period Mas camps create costumes for the parade and there is a week of cultural events in the days before carnival.[3]


The carnival started in 1968[1] as a multi-cultural event, St Paul's Festival, which was aimed at bringing together the European, African-Caribbean and Asian communities living in the area. The initial organisers were the St Paul's and Environs Consultative Committee and the West Indian Development Association, aided by the vicar of St Agnes Church and Carmen Beckford, Bristol's first community development worker.[4]

St Paul's Carnival, 2009

Researcher Thomas Fielding said that the first event had an "extravagant multiculturalism which juxtaposed steel bands, Scottish dancers and a weight-lifting competition."[5]

Trinidadian Francis Salandy became organiser in 1975[2] and under his leadership, the festival incorporated more elements of traditional Caribbean carnival, such as the Mas parade and sound systems.[4] In 1991 the event was renamed St Paul's Afrikan-Caribbean Carnival, but it retains "an inclusive ethos and still attracts a wide range of Bristolian celebrants."[4]

The festival ran every year until 2002, when it was cancelled. Amirah Cole of the organising committee said: "We've worked hard to get funding for carnival projects and events, but it has been much more difficult to get support for training and extra staff. The fact the carnival happens each year is down to the hard work of a few association members who give their time freely throughout the year to plan and fund-raise. Carnival has grown so much that this is no longer sustainable."[6]

St Paul's Carnival, 2008

In 2006 the carnival was not held as the organising committee took a year out to re-structure and develop plans for a festival in 2007 that would be part of the commemorations of the 200th anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act 1807.[7] Carnival returned in 2007, improving its diversity and popularity, with a reported 70,000 people attending in 2008.[8]

From 2007 the event was run by a non-profit organisation and registered charity, St Pauls Afrikan Caribbean Carnival Ltd. The carnival was not held in 2015, 2016 or 2017 after the main funders – Bristol City Council and Arts Council England – lost confidence in the organisers.[9] The company and charity were de-registered in 2018 owing to lack of activity.[10][11]

A community interest company, St Pauls Carnival (Bristol) C.I.C., was established in 2017.[12] The carnival returned in 2018 with funding from Arts Council England, and support from Bristol City Council and Avon and Somerset Police.[9]


Records of the St Paul's Afrikan-Caribbean Carnival and Arts Association, including administrative and financial records, marketing material, posters and photographs from the 1970s to 2007, are held at Bristol Archives (Ref. 43739) (online catalogue).


  1. ^ a b "‘An Interview with Roy Hackett – St Pauls Carnival from 1968’", Bristol Archive Records, 10 April 2012.
  2. ^ a b c "A brief history of St Pauls Carnival, Bristol", Guide to Bristol, 28 June 2010.
  3. ^ Nindi, Pax. "St Pauls Carnival 2008 - More than 40 years of Carnival in Bristol". Archived from the original on 2008-07-13. Retrieved 2009-03-29.
  4. ^ a b c Dresser, Madge; Fleming, Peter (2007). Bristol: ethnic minorities and the city 1000-2001. Chichester: Phillimore and Company, Ltd. pp. 168–169. ISBN 978-1-86077-477-5.
  5. ^ "St Paul's Carnival". England's Past for Everyone. Retrieved 2009-03-29.
  6. ^ "Street carnival cancelled". BBC News. 7 March 2002. Retrieved 2009-03-29.
  7. ^ "City's carnival takes a year out". BBC NEWS. 29 November 2005. Retrieved 2009-03-29.
  8. ^ "Thousands attend street carnival". BBC NEWS. 5 July 2008. Retrieved 2009-03-29.
  9. ^ a b Murray, Robin (4 July 2018). "St Paul's Carnival 2018: Why has it not been on for the past three years?". Bristol Post. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
  10. ^ "ST PAUL'S AFRIKAN CARIBBEAN CARNIVAL LTD". Companies House. Retrieved 4 February 2018.
  11. ^ Charity Commission. ST PAULS AFRIKAN CARIBBEAN CARNIVAL LIMITED, registered charity no. 1136561.
  12. ^ "ST PAULS CARNIVAL (BRISTOL) C.I.C." Companies House. Retrieved 4 February 2019.

Coordinates: 51°27′54″N 2°34′55″W / 51.465°N 2.582°W / 51.465; -2.582