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“Exceptional” Coronation-themed Ilkley Carnival tops pre-pandemic levels!


Ilkley was a spectacle of colour, creativity and pageantry on Bank Holiday Monday as the community came out in force to celebrate the carnival’s Coronation-themed day.


With parade numbers topping 1,100, children from the town’s primary schools alongside businesses, local organisations and charities donned costumes and carried home-made props including Big Ben, St Edward’s Crown, the Tower of London and the Gold State Coach.


Although visitor numbers and income are still being calculated, early signs are that footfall onto the main showground at least matches that of 2022, the carnival’s record year following a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.


Chair Andrew Stacey said: “The day exceeded all of our expectations in terms of a full community commitment from business support to the sheer scale and incredible imagination of parade displays which literally took our breath away.”


Winning “Best in Parade” for 2023 was Sacred Heart Primary School which presented an entry based on “Coronation Around the World”.

Other school entries were Ashlands Primary with “The Commonwealth”, Westville House school with “TV Coverage of The Coronation”, Moorfield School with “The Procession”, All Saints Primary with “The Crown Jewels”, First Ben Rhydding Scouts with “Windsor Castle”, Moortime with “London Bus”, Ben Rhydding Pre-School with “The Red Arrows”, Outside the Box with “Monarchs Through Time”, Ilkley Pre-School Playgroup with “Lion KING”, Airedale NHS Foundation Trust with “Hospital Bed”.


The procession also included marching air cadets from Ilkley’s 1224 Wharfedale Squadron, Ilkley Pride & Diversity, music from Punjabi Roots, Otley Brass Band, Leeds Pipe Band and a spectacular lead from Town Cryer Isabel Ashman and horses in mediaeval dress from the event’s main act, Knights of Albion.


Sacred Heart Primary School’s Assistant Headteacher Claire Gilhooly said the school is over the moon at being this year’s winning entry, adding: “We are grateful to our committed group of parents who came up with the theme “Coronation around the world”, planned our entry and made sure all our costumes and props were tip-top and looking amazing on the day!


“I was walking with some of our youngest children in the parade, who for 45 minutes never stopped singing and smiling! We are proud of each and every one of our children who took part - they are a credit to our school family. Now they’re all looking forward to a party that they were promised if we won!”


Additional stand out moments included five-year-old twins Red and Gil Hartley from Moorfield School whose Charles and Camilla inside the Gold State Coach provided a true show stopping moment. Mum Hayley said: “Gil was wearing his Great Grandfather’s war medals as part of his Charles costume, which included The Burma Star, The Defence Medal and the 1939-1945 Star. It was a wonderful moment for us all, very moving to have such an important family connection within the parade and something the children will always remember. And what a wonderful way to start the Coronation celebrations!”


The parade, which secured regional and national television coverage, finished at East Holmes Field showground where entertainment included the Knights of Albion Stunt Team, the Bradford Grammar Junior School Craft Tent, fun dog show trade and charity stalls and the Ilkley Rocks stage featuring live local bands.


Andrew added: “On behalf of the committee we would like to thank the incredible efforts of everyone involved and the unprecedented level of support from local businesses including Ilkley BID, our main sponsors High Speed Training and new to the carnival, Mayfield View. We’re looking forward to doing it all again next year!”


Images from the day are now available on the Ilkley Carnival website www.ilkleycarnival.org and for news updates follow @IlkleyCarnival on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Crowds following the parade to enjoy Ilkley Carnival on East Holmes Field

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