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village’s colourful farewell to Brazilian-style festival (From The Westmorland Gazette)

A VILLAGE’S Brazilian-style street extravaganza has bowed out in a blaze of colour.

Around 3,000 spectators flocked to the last-ever Staveley Carnival to watch a spectacular, costume-clad parade dance through the streets and across the newly built Gowan Bridge.

Ro Thomas, who organised the weekend’s events with founder Shelly Spenceley-Barlow, told the Gazette: “It was just amazing. We’ve been doing it since 2000 and it was the best there’s been.”

The sun-soaked festivities were the culmination of weeks of creative activity in Staveley, said Ro, involving workshops run by samba musicians, professional carnival artists and stilt-walkers for local schools and villagers.

An estimated 1,000 people young and old joined Sunday’s “fuel-free” carnival parade in four seas of colour – tones of blue, green, red and orange/yellow – wearing elaborate outfits made from recycled materials such as sweet wrappers, brush bristles, paper factory offcuts, locally coppiced willow and hazel, and hand-cut paper feathers, said Ro.

Last year’s carnival was postponed due to the closure of Staveley’s storm-damaged Gowan Bridge, which severed the parade route.

Ro said it was a ‘joyous’ sight to watch the sparkling procession making its way over the newly-built structure. “They only opened the bridge last month so it was getting really close. It’s been really hard in the village since the bridge shut, and to see all the colours going across the bridge was a real boost.”

The weekend’s programme also included an exhibition about the carnival’s history, at Staveley Roundhouse; and catwalk shows of wearable art.

“We wanted to go out on a high,” said Ro of the carnival’s final year. “It’s been going a long time and there’s no dramatic reason to end it other than we wanted to make sure we finished on a really big high, when everyone was absolutely full of energy for it, and then other things can take off from that.

“It was the best day and it left the village buzzing. When the village and the community are buzzing, amazing things happen.”


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