Wakefield College News

Black History Month: A Spotlight on Leeds Carnival

Black History Month: A Spotlight on Leeds Carnival

by Rosie Fermin -
Number of replies: 0


Black History month is used as an opportunity to celebrate and recognise the contributions and achievements of those with African or Caribbean heritage.

Taking place on our doorstep, the Leeds Carnival is an annual event that can proudly be recognised as the oldest authentic Caribbean carnival in Europe. It demonstrates Black History and how the contributions of a group has become such a big annual event attracting visitors from all over.

It began in 1967 and was the brain child of Arthur France, MBE, who came from St Kitts Nevis in 1957, and some of his friends, family and fellow students. They wanted to celebrate and share their heritage. Through sharing stories, music, dance and culture, he hoped it would help to heal some of the feelings of homesickness that many of them felt and provide a way to express themselves and their culture even whilst living in Leeds.

Approximately 1000 people attended the first carnival and from there it has gone from strength to strength increasing in size, popularity and status.

​​​​​​​In lockdown the Carnival continued online as a virtual celebration. Taking place over the last weekend in August- culminating in a parade on Bank Holiday Monday- the Leeds Carnival has something for everyone, with the chance to get involved if you’re really keen.

“It was about bringing people of all races together and sharing Caribbean culture as widely as possible.”

“For us, Carnival is not just about putting on a street party – spectacular as it is! It is not just about sharing the sweetness of steel pan and soca music nor the magnificence of costumes. It is a serious business that needs great partnerships, and that creates a cultural and artistic legacy fuelled by the dedication, hard work and passion of our volunteers, contributors, artists and participants. Half a century later it is the best way I know to secure unity and harmony.

We pride ourselves on welcoming EVERYONE to Carnival – ours is an open invitation”​​​​​​​

Arthur France MBE Hon LLd

Further reading/ listening/ watching

To learn more about Arthur France click here 

To learn more about Leeds Carnival via My Learning click here

To learn more about Leeds Carnival via the official site click here

An article from the Black History Month website- Red, White and Blue Feathers in the Summer rain


“Carnival also reminds us of our roots, the struggle our ancestors had to bear, the oppression of our leaders, and great role models, but not in vain, for while we continue to celebrate carnival their achievements will remain with us forever,”

Arthur France MBE Hon LLd


Black History and Black History Month is incredibly important to so many of us and we’d love to celebrate that within College.  

Why is Black history and Black History Month important? 

We want to hear from you, all of our Wakefield College staff and students.  What are your personal stories and why do you think it is important?  

To share your thoughts and stories or if you’d like to share your ‘Proud to be’ story, get in touch on blackhistory@wakefield.ac.uk