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Ilkley Carnival 2020 cancelled

Much like every event for the foreseeable future, Ilkley Carnival which was due to take place on Sunday 3 May 2020 has been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Andrew Stacey, Chairman, has made this statement on behalf of the Ilkley Carnival Committee.

Over the last few weeks Ilkley Carnival has been monitoring the Coronavirus situation and following guidance and advice from various public bodies. On Monday the Prime Minister asked the public to avoid gatherings in public places and although he did stop short of banning large events, it seems inevitable that will follow shortly. In the meantime many companies, organisations and governing bodies have already cancelled sporting events, concerts, festivals and other large gatherings of people.

Large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 as those attending may contract the virus and introduce it to new communities. In addition these public events require the use of external bodies, such as police and an ambulance to assist with safety. The Prime Minister did say that public services would no longer be able to attend such events due to the potential strain on resources in the event that an incident occurs.

Ilkley Carnival is a family fun day attended by generations of families. With talk of those over 70 years of age potentially being instructed to self-isolate for several months, it is unlikely this group would be able to attend the Carnival. The streets of Ilkley are lined with people of all ages to see the amazing Carnival procession, even if they don’t all follow it down and enter the showground. Any restrictions that prevent the whole family enjoying Ilkley Carnival would detract from it.

A massive part of the Carnival is the wonderful parade, which grows in both size and quality every year. Last year approximately 1,200 took part in the Parade. That is 1,200 costumes that have to be made by volunteers from the schools and other groups taking part. We have consulted with some of the groups who have explained the likely difficulties in undertaking preparations if people become affected by Coronavirus and are forced to self-isolate. In other parts of the UK we have seen schools forced to close and any similar action would obviously further impact on the ability to prepare for the parade.

The Carnival relies on a great community spirit, with around 150-200 volunteers assisting with the set-up, take down and running of the event. Some of those fall within the 70 plus age group and so may not be allowed to attend. Others may be self-isolating and we may not know who is available until they turn up on the day. Safety is paramount and for the event to operate safely the Carnival needs these volunteers and obviously cannot plan with this uncertainty.

The Carnival showground has no mains water supply which makes the current hand washing advice difficult. The only alternative is the extensive use of hand sanitisers across the site. However, recent days have seen a shortage of that product, with even schools, hospitals and other public buildings running short. At present we are not able to guarantee a supply of hand gel to the event.

In light of the above the Carnival Committee felt unable to make any other decision than to cancel this year’s event and start again in 2021. We are extremely sorry to all of those who look forward to the event.

We are just over six weeks away from the event and we wanted to make a decision now to prevent further costs being incurred by both ourselves and particularly those preparing for the parade. The Carnival itself has already incurred several thousand pounds worth of expenditure which cannot be recouped. However, we plan for such ‘one-offs’ and at present this will not affect the viability of the event going forward. We are planning on keeping the ‘Our Planet’ theme for 2021 to minimise waste.

Each year our town comes together to show a fantastic community spirit in supporting Ilkley Carnival. We hope that same community spirit comes to the fore in the difficult months ahead to support our older and vulnerable residents. We look forward to seeing everyone on May Day, Monday 3 May 2021 and hope the community understands the reasoning behind this decision.

Andrew Stacey, Chairman on behalf of Ilkley Carnival Committee

For the latest Ilkley coronavirus news please visit our dedicated page at


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