The Leeds West Indian Carnival is the oldest authentic Caribbean carnival in Europe, and 2017 marked its 50th anniversary.
- J’Ouvert Morning, the traditional early morning, mini-procession starts Carnival Day. Jouvert is French patois for 'day break' and is a large street party held during Carnival throughout many Caribbean cultures. Its origins coincide with the emancipation from slavery in the British West Indies in 1838 which provided Africans with the opportunity, to not only participate in Carnival, but to embrace it as an expression of their newfound freedom. J’ouvert is also known as ‘pyjama jamming’ and often people wear pyjamas, nighties, onesies and fancy dress. J’ouvert Morning at the Leeds West Indian Carnival is a major feature of the event and takes place each year early on August Bank Holiday Monday. This is a mini procession and with soca music designed to be the perfect way to warm up for the main parade which happens later on in the day.
The King & Queen Show showcases the figurehead carnival costumes competing for the prestigious Carnival King & Queen titles. The Prince & Princess Show is the junior version.
- Carnival Parade costumes are inspired by Caribbean masquerade, designed and manufactured to a carnival theme.
- There is traditional and contemporary carnival music through steel pan, soca, drum and calypso. It includes the Calypso Monarch Show - a live lyrical and musical contest with singers performing their own original calypso compositions.
- There is a strong tradition of dance (both through choreography and performance)
Food is a major part of carnival, from the Carnival ‘must taste’ jerk chicken, to festival (Jamaican dumplings), from West Indian curries with rice and peas to mango coleslaw – and lots more besides.