The vibrant and exciting Caribbean Carnival of Manchester (CCOM) is upon us again, and this year’s carnival will again be held at its spiritual home of Alexandra Park.
The historical roots of the Manchester Carnival lie in Trinidad, where the first Caribbean carnival was held in 1833. Before this date, black slaves had been forbidden by law to partake in their master’s European Easter carnivals, or even to gather on the streets after nightfall.
When these laws were repealed in 1833 and freedom from slavery was announced, black Caribbean’s took to the streets for their own carnival with song, dance and costumes that reflected both their own cultures and satirised that of their ex-master’s.
As the first significant numbers of West Indian immigrants began to leave the Caribbean in the early 50’s, they took with them their musical traditions. The first recognised Manchester Caribbean carnival occurred in 1972. This was when a group – of mostly St Kits and Nevis, and Trinidadian immigrants – decided to throw an impromptu carnival procession, through the streets of their Manchester neighbourhood.
Less than a hundred people were present, but although it was small in scale the first ever Manchester Caribbean carnival was an important moment in the history of black Britons and Mancunians. Manchester carnival has annually brought Caribbean culture to the forefront for over 40 years and is the North West’s largest celebration of Caribbean music and carnival arts.
The carnival, which will be held on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 August, is a sprightly and flamboyant celebration of Caribbean music, dance, theater and costume.
TNT Entertainment Billy Rooney