Programme revealed for two-week St Pauls Carnival-inspired celebration

The beautiful, bright colours of St Pauls Carnival 2023
-Credit: (Image: Sophie Grubb/BristolLive)


St Pauls Carnival's popular Back a Yard celebration is making a much-anticipated return this summer. The organisation announced in 2023, following a successful return to the streets, that it would move to a biennial model which would see it alternate between a large-scale street event and a more intimate programme.

Back a Yard 2024 will begin on June 22, Windrush Day, with a carnival-inspired two-week celebration. The first event on the line-up is set to be the 'Sounds of Windrush: Human Library' at Circomedia, consisting of an evening of storytelling that will delve into the impact of the Windrush Generation on Bristol's music scene.

There will be an afterparty featuring renowned artists including Big D, Keith Lawrence, Dazee, and Gemmy. The events will culminate on Saturday, July 6 - the traditional day of the St Pauls Carnival - with an 'It Takes A City Day Party' at The Boxing Gym in St Jude's.

Read more: St Pauls Carnival to be scaled back in 2024 due to high costs

Read more: St Pauls Carnival 2023 in pictures as thousands attend first full-scale event in three years

'It Takes A City' is a fundraising campaign launched by St Pauls Carnival. Organisers say the decision to move to the biennial model is based on the need to 'ensure the viability of the event and the organisation in a time where the arts and events sector is experiencing significant cost increases - many festivals have either cancelled or closed over the past 12 months'.

St Pauls Carnival collaborated with UWE Business School to carry out an economic impact report on the 2023 event and found that the carnival is estimated to generate £9.2 million across the city and the region over the July weekend. The carnival's executive director says that this money is spent in the gardens selling food and drink in St Pauls, the city's pubs, restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues.

Carnival chair Levi Roots is encouraging people to look out for the It Takes a City poster and contribute to the carnival. He says: “Last year was amazing. We had 120, 000 people in the streets with good vibes all day. If everyone donated £2 on the day, this would make a huge difference.

"We want people to look out for the campaign poster and give whatever they can. Carnival brings so much joy to so many people. It deserves a little something back.”

In addition to this, St Pauls Carnival is partnering with various community and cultural organisations to enrich the programme this year, including a Caribbean music showcase at Bristol Beacon, and a fashion show at Montpelier High School.

The Bristol Beacon is putting on an events programme to honour the history of the Windrush Generation, as well as the Bristol Bus Pioneers, between June 19-22. Across the three days in the run up to Windrush Day on Saturday, June 22, 'Windrush To Bristol' will showcase the impact of Black Caribbean people on Bristol, the UK and the world.

'Windrush The Journey', a concert and exhibition by Pegasus Opera Company, takes place across each of the three days in Bristol Beacon's Lantern Hall. Another brand new exhibition will collate Bristol people’s reflections and ideas around race, representation and resilience, with a vision to forge them into a manifesto to achieve racial equality for the city.

Crowds seen at St Pauls Carnival 2023 as event makes triumphant return after three years
Crowds seen at St Pauls Carnival 2023 as event makes triumphant return after three years -Credit:Sophie Grubb/BristolLive

From Thursday, June 20, 'Race Cards: A Blueprint 4 Change' will be on display, curated in partnership with CuriosityUnLtd, and inspired by the activism of the Bristol Bus Boycott and inspirational vision of Martin Luther King’s Dream.

As well as this programme of celebratory public events, Bristol Beacon and CuriosityUnltd are honouring 28 Bristol Bus Boycott Pioneers by naming seats in Beacon Hall at a celebration on June 20, to be attended by friends and family of the civil rights change makers. The seat dedication marks a permanent commemoration of the activists’ achievements in paving the way for the pivotal race relations act of 1965, following widespread celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Boycott in 2023.

St Pauls Carnival executive director LaToyah McAllister-Jones feels the campaign has an important message. She says: “We understand the disappointment that there isn’t a full-scale Carnival this year, especially after such a successful and vibrant comeback event in 2023.

"We are so proud of what was achieved last year and how well-received the event was. However, a post-Covid landscape and cost of living crisis has taken its toll on the events sector.

"We want to talk to the whole city – citizens, businesses and institutions – about the huge benefits carnival brings to our communities. I really do believe ‘it takes a city’ to support an iconic event like St Pauls Carnival and what this means is that everyone has a part to play in securing its legacy for generations to come."

St Pauls Carnival has launched five Crowdfunder prize draws in collaboration with event organisers based in Bristol, London and Wales. LaToyah continues: “We’re really excited about our Crowdfunder. We have tickets for some exciting events and experiences in the city and beyond.

"We want to give everyone a way to support carnival and our Crowdfunder also gives people a chance to get to some of the top events happening this summer!”