Ilkley will be transformed into a sea of colour, music, street performers and a fabulous feel-good atmosphere when the Mardi Gras-themed parade comes to town on 6 May.
The theme of Ilkley Carnival 2024 is announced this week as “Mardi Gras” and children from primary beneficiary organisation AWARE (Airedale and Wharfedale Autism Resource) joined carnival committee member Colin Watson to kick start the carnival countdown.
Adorned with streamers, beads, masks and party poppers, George McKerchar, Willow Baker, Aoife West and AWARE volunteer Ross Hall captured the excitement of the Mardi Gras-themed May Day bank holiday event during their Saturday morning club in Addingham this weekend.
AWARE volunteer Rachel Miller said: “We are so excited to be involved in the announcement of this year’s Mardi Gras themed Ilkley Carnival and even more excited to start planning our costumes and ideas for the parade!
“It’s absolutely fantastic that as primary beneficiary in this, our 25th anniversary year, the funds donated to us will help to fund a residential trip which aims to build the confidence of young people with autism. Ilkley Carnival brings our community together every year with a special and memorable weekend which also works to accommodate our children by giving exclusive access to Marshalls fairground for a quiet afternoon the day before the main event.
“Everyone within AWARE will feel the benefit of all the good will and celebrations in the run up to Ilkley Carnival and from fundraising on the day. The town is always a very special place, but on the Mardi Gras-themed carnival day, it’s going to be a festival of colour, community and celebration!”
The Coronation-themed Ilkley Carnival 2023 was another success for the town with around 10,000 people reportedly visiting the carnival showground and £24k raised for local good causes, including contributing to the refurbishment of the Ilkley Amateur Operatic Society headquarters, which also provides a community hub for other local groups and organisations.
Ilkley Carnival committee chair Andrew Stacey said: “Last year saw another incredible event for the community with £24,250 raised – all of which was possible thanks to the support our event receives from local businesses, local groups, schools and of course our volunteers.
“We hope everyone is as excited by the Mardi Gras “take over” theme as we are – parents, schools and local groups and businesses can really let their imaginations run wild as there really is no limit on colour, flamboyance, music and dance! Ilkley Carnival is always a fantastic day to remember and we just can’t wait to see what our creative community has in store for 2024!”
Ilkley Carnival 2024 starts at 11am on Monday 6 May with its spectacular parade beginning on The Grove and finishing at East Holmes Field showground which will be home to headline acts, a fun dog show, trade and charity stalls and a host of free children’s activities from the craft tent to Punch and Judy.
For details about becoming a sponsor and available advertising packages, contact carnival committee member Colin Watson on 07885 200640. To join the carnival’s team of volunteers, or for details on becoming a beneficiary contact Andrew Stacey on 07951 890836.