Hackney Carnival to return in autumn after five year gap

A picture from the most recent Hackney Carnival, in 2019. Pic: Hackney Council. 

After having been absent for five years, Hackney Carnival is coming back this September.  

The council has announced that this year’s carnival will take place on September 22 in the form of a “family-focused parade celebrating the borough’s diverse communities and creative talents”. 

The carnival has not taken place since 2019. It was cancelled due to the Covid pandemic in 2020 and 2021, and then because of the Queen’s death in 2022.  

While many residents were expecting the return of Carnival in 2023, the council announced in March last year that a full carnival event wouldn’t take place again until 2024 and that it would take place every two years instead of annually.  

Councillor Chris Kennedy, cabinet member for health, adult social care, leisure and culture, said in the statement: “Like everyone in Hackney we love carnival and always look forward to a chance to celebrate together with the whole community.  

“However, the growing audiences mean we need more infrastructure, event staff, security, and communications every year to deliver a safe and successful event. 

The budget for carnival has almost doubled each year due to its increasing scale and popularity. Rising costs and challenging inflationary pressures mean it simply isn’t possible to hold a live carnival event every 12 months.” 

The decision was met with sharp criticism from disappointed residents. An Instagram post from Hackney Carnival about the statement received more than 50 upset comments, calling the decision to make the carnival happen every two years instead of yearly “outrageous”, “crazy”, and “nonsense”.  

User Leila Bow commented: “Such a shame, after everything over the past 3 years here in the UK, and more around the world, you take away one of the few places people, especially marginalised people and people of colour especially, can take control of their own joy, and with that celebrate and share it and everything we are.  If Kensington and Chelsea can do it for NHC [Notting Hill Carnival], why can’t Hackney? Poor decision.” 

User Moneer Elmasseek commented on the same post: “Very disappointed, Hackney carnival is one of the few things about Hackney that has survived its violent gentrification. We can’t lose it from yearly to every two years.” 

This year’s carnival will go ahead while Hackney Council is dealing with a £74m financial crisis, will consist of a daytime street parade preceded by summer workshops for young people and their families in the borough. 

The parade will be led by Pax Nindi, founder of the Global Carnival Centre. He said in a statement: “Hackney Carnival holds a special place in my heart, and I’m delighted to be at the helm once more. The overwhelming community support is a testament to the Carnival’s significance in our lives.  

“2019 was a triumph, and 2024 promises to be an explosion of colour, culture, and togetherness. Hackney Carnival is for everyone, transcending boundaries of colour, race, and creed, and I’m honoured to be leading the way working with our amazing Carnival groups.” 

Caroline Woodley, Mayor of Hackney, said in the same statement: “I’m so happy that we’ve been able to bring Hackney’s family-friendly Carnival back to the borough’s streets this September. The return of Carnival is a chance for residents to come together to celebrate and showcase the creativity and talent that makes our diverse borough so special. For anybody who has yet to experience Hackney Carnival, now is your chance!” 

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