Carnival! The Greatest Free Show in Manchester

We probably all need a bit of cheering up at this time of year, so here’s a little colour and sunshine to brighten your day, care of our Moss Side Carnival collection.

Photo of carnival queen on parade

Irma Brandy (daughter of Locita Brandy) as Carnival Queen, 1976. Courtesy Locita Brandy

This collection of photographs, administrative paperwork and ephemera was kindly donated to us by Mrs Locita Brandy, who was instrumental in setting up the first Moss Side Carnival in 1970 and organising the yearly extravaganza for the best part of three decades.

Mrs Brandy moved to the UK from the island of Nevis in the late 1950s, and as a young mother in Moss Side she often spoke to other Caribbean families about what they missed from back home: ‘We all missed our carnival’.

So a small committee decided to have a go at organising their own, as part of the annual family day at Alexandra Park. The first event, TL Raynor tells us, was very small with ‘about 3 floats, no band and no money’, but it was enough to get started. The following year the Leward Island’s People’s Association offered their support and the event steadily gained momentum and reputation.

Today, the Manchester Caribbean Carnival is an important date in Manchester’s cultural calendar. In 2015 it returned triumphantly to its ‘spiritual home’ in the newly reopened Alexandra Park.

Mrs Brandy’s handwritten notes and drafts of letters to potential sponsors and participants shows us that it was at this dark and chilly time of year that the committee was busy planning the summer’s festivities. So, have a browse of the selection of images below (click for a closer look) and daydream about what your summer might hold…

The Carnival collection is available to researchers on request. These images also form part of the virtual archive you can browse on the Ground Floor of Manchester Central Library.

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