THE organisers of Oxfordshire’s biggest public event have announced the line-up for this year’s online event, and called on participants to film themselves having fun and share it with other revellers.

Cowley Road Carnival attracts up to 50,000 fun-lovers to the East Oxford thoroughfare every year for an afternoon of music, dancing, eating and drinking.

While this year’s public event has been called off because of coronavirus, a ‘virtual’ event, to be broadcast online on July 5, will see performances by surf-rockers Quatermelon, electro-pop act Little Brother Eli, singer-songwriters Patrick Griffin and Sarah Derrick, Brazilian-style carnival crew Sol Samba, fun brass band Horns of Plenty and Ran Kan Kan.

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There will also be DJ sets from perennial favourite Count Skylarkin’ with ska, reggae and dancehall, soulful house from DJG, and an energetic set by DJs Tiger Mendoza and Yaya.

Banbury Cake:

Ran Kan Kan and Sol Samba join the fun

The fun will be broadcast online from 11am on July 5, resulting in what organisers say will be Oxford’s ‘best day in’ this year. The plan is to get the whole community involved by submitting music, dance, photography, film, recipes, and other carnival fun to share and celebrate.

Revellers are urged to submit video and pictures of themselves joining a ‘virtual’ procession – dressed in their finest carnival attire and in decorated homes and gardens.

They are also encouraged to record themselves singing a special carnival song written by musician Benjamin Turner, with the results broadcast on carnival day.

Mr Turner said: “We want as many of you to get involved as possible so that our song will be a true reflection of our carnival community.”

There will also be a virtual choir with which revellers can join in a Zulu folk song called Aya Ngena. Musicians are invited to join in with the instrumentation. Dancers can get involved by showing off their moves to a tune by Roguey Roads.

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Those who fancy channelling the spirit of Rio de Janeiro by learning samba skills, can join a workshop by Ed Finch of the Larkrise School Samba Band, with tips on selecting instruments – from drums to wheelie bins.

Clare O’Hara, director of Cowley Road Works said: “After all this time in lockdown we can’t wait for carnival joy back in our lives.

“We will be bringing carnival vibes direct to your homes and gardens by streaming online. This unique and special carnival will definitely be unique and one to remember.

Banbury Cake:

“Join us in getting ready for virtual carnival day with some art projects. Turn your empty bottles into glowing lanterns, old fabric scraps into dreamer streamers and coloured paper into garlands and decorate your garden.

“Some of our young people’s groups are going to be sharing their creations in Oxford’s parks. Join them and make a carnival area in your local park.

“At home, prepare with our headdress making templates, get your carnival groove on with our guides to make your own maracas and drums or join a samba workshop online to help you get that unmistakable carnival rhythm from instruments you can find or make at home.”

Aidan Larkin –aka Count Skylarkin’ is a regular fixture, his energetic DJ sets being a highlight of the event.

He said: “When I was first asked about playing a ‘virtual’ Cowley Road Carnival, I was about as enthused as I was the time someone suggested turning the event into a food festival on Magdalen Road.

“But everything has changed this year. We’ve never needed to feel connected by music, art and community so much, and recent happenings such as Lockdown Festival prove this can be achieved in a way that generates genuine excitement and interaction, and isn’t just totally lame.

“Anyway, I’ve played every single carnival since the first in 2001, so I’m not going to stop now.

“I’ll be doing my best to bring the vibes and possibly roadblock my back garden.

“Bring your air horns and blow your whistles!”

Get involved

  • Revellers can tune in via the Virtual Carnival Live page of the website cowleyroadworks.co.uk. Carnival song lyrics and details of other activities will be posted on the site for download. Video and pictures of you and your family or friends should be submitted by June 21.
  • Participants using social media can use #VirtualCarnival and #CowleyRoadCarnival