Saturday, 4 July 2009

The Belfast Carnival

The streets of Belfast held host to Belfast Carnival a week ago today and I was lucky enough to be there and enjoy the parade. The theme celebrating the International Year of Astronomy 2009 was exploring the stars and the universe.

It started off as a muggy overcast afternoon but the sun wasn’t hiding too far behind the clouds. Norn Girl and I had gone into town having almost forgotten about the Carnival and were heading to check on a detail with our honeymoon plans and also to pick up a few things from the shops. The main item on the list, a light blanket for the bed to help alleviate the hot and sticky nights.

We found ourselves initially down by St Anne’s Cathedral and walked up Royal Avenue to Castlecourt. As the Parade hadn’t quite got into full swing we were parading past the precession rather than the precession parading past us, though there was a point we stopped to get a video... loved the spinning wheel!

Further along the street, there was a recycled float from last year, that of a giant Gulliver but it was still impressive to see. The folks who put that together must have spent an age doing it, almost as impressive as the one at Blackpool Pleasure beach that holds the monorail up.

A few of the floats including the Cannon and the spinney wheel were the same but were tied into the new theme with a bit of a costume change and some redecorating. The drums were rhythmic and the dancers and performers giving their all to add to a lively and fun atmosphere. A sea of bright colours and shapes that weren’t far from those in beyond our planet. To see some of these in picture sizes bigger than your computer screen, currently ongoing is an outdoor astronomy exhibition in the grounds of Belfast City Hall, so if you want to see some pretty pictures of space from the middle of Belfast - thats the place to be. Having had a look there are some great pictures.

A handy side effect was that the roads were closed and as a pedestrian in town, no one was having to wait for traffic when crossing the road (we should have a carnival every Saturday!).

The many types of dancers and gymnasts were very impressive and to keep going for so long in the heat and never letting the smiles drop was really impressive. The crowds were several deep in places and stretched the length of the route. I never saw it on the news though, I tend to stay away from watching it a lot of the time due to the repetitive depression it provides.

We only saw the new lord Mayors bus from a distance but hopefully the influence she has on the city from her new position will be as positive and inclusive as the carnival.

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