This year, Luton Council decided to merge their premium events to coincide with the Olympic Torch relay this year. The newly conceived Luton Festival, the Mela and Luton Carnival were all moved to the weekend beginning Saturday 7th July, which culminated with an evening event on Sunday 8th to celebrate the torch’s arrival.
Unfortunately, most of the publicity for the weekend mentioned only the festival, which left some confusion as to when or whether the carnival was going to be taking place - and of course unpredictable weather didn’t help. Together, these factors unfortunately shifted the audience numbers for carnival day from 80k last year, to 30k this.
Despite all of that, the content of the carnival was the best ever, with the local mas band participation reaching 1,500 and an injection from UKCCA’s Carnival Cross Roads Eastbound Olympic project, which included over 500 participants from five eastern region towns. Directed by internationally renowned carnival expert Pax Nindi, Carnival Cross Roads featured what the media described as the best moving Rio style float ever to be seen in UK. Eastbound music and costumes were produced by the best carnival artists in the UK, which explained how they got away with not using huge trucks and generators for their part of the carnival.
The weather was friendly throughout the day, with only minor showers as the procession passed through Luton Town Centre, where the judging point was located, and then back to Wardown Park. The Eastbound float was also used as a platform for the torchbearer to pose for the media on the 51st day of the Torch Relay. Let’s hope that next year there will be better publicity to match the energy invested by our carnival sector, and Luton Carnival will be back on track.