Bring back St Albans Carnival

St Albans & Harpenden Review: A young resident takes part in the carnival in 2004 A young resident takes part in the carnival in 2004

People in St Albans can get set to party as plans to reinvent St Albans Carnival, once second in size only to Notting Hill, emerge a decade after it was last held.

With fond memories and an enthusiasm for its comeback, the people of St Albans are getting together to bring the carnival back with a modern twist and a  new name "St Albans Carnival- The Rise of the Phoenix".

The August Bank Holiday carnival was held on and off since 1939, but the last one took place in 2005 after the route was changed and a year after the Round Table stopped managing the event.

Graham Branch, a member of the carnival committee, says he fondly remembers participating in the procession from Bernards Heath to Westminster Lodge when he was in the boy’s brigade.

The 43-year old of Campfield Road said: "Anyone who lived in St Albans or grew up in St Albans would remember it and may even wonder why it fizzled out.

"In the olden days people would line the streets to watch it. It was absolutely jam packed with people watching from start to finish. At its peak it was the biggest carnival in the country, apart from Notting Hill Carnival.

The father-of-two continued: "It will be nice for my children to experience the carnival like I did when I was younger. It was always a really good day out.

"It is quite exciting to think that we could bring it back. We want to create a modern feel and turn it in to a festival type event, with a main stage to embrace local talent.

"It will be the people of St Albans that are pushing this. They are the people that are going to make it happen. So if anyone is interested we would like to hear from you."

Residents, businesses and local councillors are now discussing their revival plans and have recently split in to a Health and Safety, Funding, Visionary and Community and Engagement committees to share the responsibilities.

Plans include the return of the colourful procession and its route from Bernards Heath through the town centre before reaching Westminster Lodge, a silent disco, a festival type stage with a range of music, dance and comedians.

There are also discussions for a St Albans carnival King and Queen and a ‘St Albans Got Talent’ event.

The carnival will also have a summer theme and party-goers will be encouraged to put their best bright and bold outfits and costumes forward. 

Arif Gardner, 42 of Jersey Farm, initially created the buzz among residents when he posted a tweet on his Twitter account.

He explained:  "I tweeted ‘what happened to St Albans Carnival’ because I would love to see it return and it was encouraging to see how many people agreed with me.

"St Albans is good at putting on events. There is no reason why we shouldn’t celebrate together as a community.

"It has been really nice to meet other people and hear their visions and twists on how the carnival should return."

Anesta Edge, 41, a member of the visionary committee said:  "I just want it to be one big party and for people to have fun.

"I have such fond memories of the carnival. I remember throwing money at the floats, running and picking up the sweets.

"There is nothing for young people to do and I think it is important for them to enjoy special time with their family and to have that one to one time together."

The committee hope to organise the one-day event in Verulamium Park over next year’s August Bank Holiday.

Lisa Bates, executive director at St Albans Chamber of Commerce, said: "It is a great event for everybody in the community to enjoy the brilliant things that go on here day in and day out.

"If it is publicised right it will bring footfall in to the city centre. Shops, restaurants and retailers will benefit from it hugely.

"Hopefully it will bring a great volume of people in to the city."

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