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Ilkley Carnival chair looks ahead to this year's event


Fit for a King...Ilkley Carnival Chairman Andrew Stacey looks ahead to this year's event in 1 week, Monday 1st May.


Ilkley Carnival is a historic local event and May bank holiday celebrations have been held here for over a century, ever since the town’s first Black Hats versus White Hats cricket match was played on May Day in 1880.


For decades since, the town comes out in full force on the first Bank Holiday Monday of the year to witness a spectacular parade of colour, creativity and community spirit to celebrate the season and showcase the town’s schools, local groups, businesses and charities. This year, the event takes place on Monday 1st May.


In the last 10 years alone our carnival parade themes have included British History, Fantasy and Fiction, At the Movies and of course, this year we are intending to create a truly regal event with our Coronation themed parade. What started as a spectacle created by school pupils is now embraced by all corners of the community meaning this year we are expecting more than 1,000 participants with scouts and guides, nurseries, schools, shop keepers, vets, businesses and youth groups creating a dazzling Coronation-themed procession including the crown jewels, carriages and monarchs through time.


It is going to be showstopping!


Last year, after an enforced two-year break, we had no idea how the 2022 event would be received. Would organisers of parade entries and helper’s groups have moved on? Would parents still want to make costumes? Some children would never have seen an Ilkley Carnival – so would people even turn up?


The answer was a resounding YES! We had a year that broke all known records with over 10,000 people on the Ilkley Carnival showground and many thousands more lining the street for the biggest and best parade procession ever. We had hundreds of volunteers give up their time to ensure the event ran smoothly and safely.


We also gave away a record £25,500 to local good causes, including £10,000 to the Friends of Ilkley Moor to assist the vital work they are undertaking to preserve one of Bradford district’s most valuable assets.


Since 2012 alone, Ilkley Carnival has distributed over £125k to local charities and good causes, reflecting our values of fundraising through volunteering. And of course, this ethos is even more significant in 2023 as our Coronation-themed, 1st May event echoes the volunteering focus of the official Coronation celebrations with the national day of volunteering and “The Big Help Out” taking place on the 8th May.


This year’s Ilkley Carnival has a lot to live up to but we have secured some incredible entertainment with the fantastic jousting Steamhorse/Knights Of Albion our main headline act who will put on a show not to be missed. We have a fun dog show, a falconry display, Punch and Judy, a free craft tent sponsored by Bradford Grammar Junior School and a host of charity, trade and food stands.


Of course Ilkley Carnival is not just about the big names, we actively seek to provide an opportunity to showcase local talent, particularly from local bands and singers on the ‘Ilkley Rocks’ stage and in the Acoustic Marquee.


Last year it cost almost £26,000 to hold Ilkley Carnival and with no public funding, the support of local businesses in effectively underwriting many of our costs is vital in safeguarding the future of the event. I must thank our primary sponsor High Speed Training for their third year of financial support.


In a bid to future proof our event and to work even more closely with local businesses, we have created a new addition this year with a sponsors’ marquee to recognise the vital role all of our sponsors play – all of whom are local businesses from sole traders to blue chip companies who have their base in our town.


Finally, I wanted to say thank you to a few individuals and organisations – our volunteer committee of nine local people who give up hours, weeks, months of their time to make Ilkley Carnival happen. Last year 25 local groups assisted the carnival in setting up the site and with staffing. Some of these such as Backstage Academy, School Of Rock & Media and the traffic management team from Baildon Gala bring levels of expertise that are priceless in enabling us to keep our considerable costs down and so ensure we are able to give more money to local good causes.


Thank you to these and all of the groups that assist as without you there would be no Ilkley Carnival. All that is left is for me to say is come along to Ilkley on the 1st May for an 11am start to the parade on The Grove, heading down to our East Holmes Field showground. Join us for an action-packed day which will showcase the power of volunteering, of community spirit and which will undoubtedly kickstart the nation’s Coronation celebrations in style!


Andrew Stacey, Ilkley Carnival Chairman.


For the latest news visit the Ilkley Carnival website ilkleycarnival.org and follow Ilkley Carnival on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Advance price wristbands are available from Tesco on Springs Lane, saving £1 (£5 rather that £6 on the day) and use the fast track lanes for entry. Wristbands for 3-16 are £2 and under 3s are free.


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