Rising costs halt annual carnival

ST PAUL’S Carnival made a triumphant return in 2023 with more than 100,000 taking part in the event on July 1.

Organisers said the first carnival since 2019 had received been described by  police and emergency services as the friendliest and safest ever.

But they announced that the next carnival would not be until 2025 because of the huge challenges of staging a large-scale free public event.

The 2023 carnival had a Learning from Legends theme, paying homage to its African Caribbean founders and marking the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the Windrush.

Festival executiuve LaToyah McAllister-Jones said: “We are all buzzing from an incredible event. I would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone who came and made the day so memorable.

“We are very grateful for support from the Arts Council, Bristol City Council, and partner agencies across the city together with the community of St Pauls and our sponsors and supporters, without them the 2023 event would not have happened.

“Our attention now turns to the future and, as a fundraising arts organisation, we still need to make people aware that it is only with public generosity and support that we can put this event on in the future. 

“This year’s carnival also helped further test the viability of the current funding model and the challenges faced to generate enough funds year-on-year. 

As a result, we now plan to stage a full-scale carnival every two years, with 2024 seeing the return to our community-led Back-a-Yard format which we successfully ran during the pandemic years. We will also continue our ongoing year-round initiatives, including our highly popular schools’ and education programme which forms part of Carnival 365.

“The event landscape has changed in this post Covid era, and we are seeing other non-ticket events experiencing similar pressures to us. We thank everyone who donated and supported us this year, however, the reality is that only a very small proportion of people contribute compared with those who attend.

“We have to raise in excess of £250,000 – 50% of the cost to safely run an event of this scale in Bristol. As a free-to-attend street event which gets a small proportion of donations compared to other events in the city, we cannot sustain running the full carnival every year.

“Our message is clear – if you want St Pauls Carnival back on the streets in all its authentic glory – we need to recognise and accept its true cost and work together to make it happen.

Donations can still be made at: www.stpaulscarnival.net/donate