Cowley Road Carnival is a chaotic, cacophony of colours, cheers and chants. It is rowdy and raucous and just plain wonderful.
This stretch of road in Oxford city centre is well renowned for being a melting pot of cultures; where Balkan food markets neighbour Nepalese restaurants and Bollywood fashion stores. It’s fabulous! The annual carnival amplifies this delicious variety tenfold, and this year was no exception.
The theme this year was “Creating Our Future”. The event was sponsored by Oxford Brookes University and focused on education for future generations. Numerous schools took part in the parade, and displayed in glorious 3D technicolour what they thought was important both now and in years to come. Amid a strong ecological trend (calls to action of “Reduce! Reuse! Recycle!) we saw a large polar bear taking a ride on a shopping trolley alongside a local primary school (okay, he was paper mache!) to highlight the importance in acting to slow down global warming. There was also a Pride swan leading the way just ahead of Timor Leste Traditional dancers, belly dancers, a brass band… It was bonkers- but that’s the beauty of the Carnival!
The belly dancing costumes are beautiful, don’t you think? The colours, the opulence; I love that the focus of bellydancing is a celebration of womanhood. I took part in a taster belly dancing lesson when I was in University and the first thing the teacher said was “Stop sucking it in, embrace the jiggle!” What a refreshing idea!! What gets my toes tapping every time though, without fail, are the samba bands; there’s just something about the energetic beat that makes me want to shimmy and shake! I just wish I had their coordination…
Diversity is wonderful. The Cowley Road Carnival is, I’d say, the Notting Hill of Oxfordshire and I love it. Do any of you have local events like these? If so, let me know! Let’s celebrate our global identities!
P.s. A special shout out goes out to The Rusty Smoke Shack (@TheRustyBicycle- follow, flock to wherever they are!), who provided our lunch for the day. I went with this delectable pulled pork bun, primarily because of the pun-tastic name, but I was not disappointed! It was unctuous: I dribbled smokey, barbecuey deliciousness down my arm as I hungrily sank my teeth into the pillowy brioche bun. We sat in silence that lunchtime- just us and our own little cardboard containers of heaven. Phwoar.