Could Carnival return to St Albans?

NOTTING Hill boasts the biggest event of its kind in Europe and the Isle of Wight claims to have the longest running – and there are now plans to revive what was once described as the second largest carnival in the country in St Albans.

The district council is investigating whether there should be a return of floats, sequins and colourful costumes to the city in 2013.

St Albans had hosted an August Bank Holiday carnival on and off since 1939 but the last was held in 2005, a year after the Round Table decided to stop managing the event.

As a temporary measure the council stepped in to run the carnival for the final year with the aim of finding another organisation to take it on but none came forward.

An informal cross party group of councillors and officers has now been formed to consider the feasibility of establishing a new carnival in St Albans in 2013, possibly in September.

Cllr Robert Donald, chairman of the overview and scrutiny committee, said there was strong cross-party support for reviving a community-based carnival with a costumed parade, music, street entertainment and possibly a fair.

The group will look at carnival events in Notting Hill, Bridgwater in Somerset and St Albans’ twin towns of Fano in Italy and Worms in Germany. In light of the demise of the previous carnival, it will also consider funding, who will organise it and the extent of the council’s role.

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The idea has been given the thumbs-up from one former carnival-goer, Lucia Federici, principal of Mount Carmel Kindergarten in Sandpit Lane, St Albans. She has lived in the city for 30 years and helped run floats for her nursery school and the LIFE Association.

She said: “I would completely support having a carnival again in St Albans as it is the only event I can think of that truly unites the people of this great city from the very youngest to the oldest.

“All my own children have such happy memories of standing with the crowds in St Peter’s Street and eagerly awaiting the carnival procession to arrive from Bernards Heath. My purse quickly emptied itself of loose change for the children to throw into the passing buckets of charity collectors.”

Mrs Federici said that September would probably not be an ideal time to host a carnival as it coincided with the start of the academic year and might struggle to attract the participation of schools and nurseries.

Suggesting the council instead considered June to hold the event, she added: “Choosing the right date for the carnival is crucial for its success as sponsors of the floats which are mainly clubs, businesses and schools will only want to take part if they think there will be high public attendance.”