Get ready for the Edinburgh Festival at WHALE

Junkanoo Commandos


WHALE Arts will be involved in the preparations for The Edinburgh Festival Carnival which is back for an explosive third year on Sunday 20th July. Supported by The City of Edinburgh Council, this extravaganza of colour and music in the city centre is free for all. In an initiative funded by the Scottish Government’s Expo fund and supported by the South African Government, Summerhall and Brouhaha International, there will be a host of exciting events taking place across the city throughout the month of July, encouraging people to join in the fun of the Carnival!

The project offers adults and children of all abilities the opportunity to learn basic carnival skills like costume-making, drumming, playing music and dancing, from carnival makers and musicians from the Bahamas and South Africa. The events will take place at community centres across Edinburgh – in Newington, Leith, Wester Hailes, Moredun/Gilmerton, West Pilton and the city centre – in the build-up to Carnival day.

The Festival Carnival is organised by Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, and Producer, Roger Spence, said:

“The Carnival is established now as a terrific free city centre event with something for everyone. We want to encourage more Edinburgh people to join in, and thanks to support from the City of Edinburgh Council, the Scottish Government’s Expo Fund and Culture 2014, we’re able to offer a range of really exciting Carnival workshops and events that will hopefully encourage more people not just to come out and watch the events on July 20, but to take part in them, too!”

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs said:

“Through the Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund the Scottish Government has awarded the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival almost £900,000 since 2008-09 and we’ve seen that money make a real and lasting difference to the growth and reach of the festival and to the many performers our Expo projects have promoted and supported along the way.

“The festival has a proven track record of bringing some of the very best performers to Scotland from across the globe, attracting audiences from far and wide to experience for themselves, Scotland’s rich culture, heritage and distinct identity – and enjoy a taste of other world cultures too.

“This year’s £145,000 Expo award will give communities across and beyond Edinburgh an opportunity to engage with some of the very best carnival performers and musicians from the Bahamas, South Africa, the UK and of course, our exceptional home grown talent.”

The fun starts with a very special EDINBURGH FESTIVAL CARNIVAL WEEKEND WORKSHOP on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th July from 10am-5pm at Summerhall (ages 16 and over). Participants can join carnival supremos Junkanoo Commandos from the Bahamas for this activity-packed weekend open to all, no experience necessary.

Pick up an instrument of choice, from the drums to the cowbells, and learn authentic carnival music, or bounce around to the beat with Bahamian dance moves. Learn to make your very own Junkanoo costume, which participants are then welcome to wear in the Carnival parade on the 20th July!

Materials are supplied and booking is essential. Tickets cost from £15 and are available from the website or 0131 473 2000.

On the night of Saturday 5 July the EDINBURGH FESTIVAL CARNIVAL PARTY takes place, a celebratory extravaganza at Summerhall from 9pm-1am (ages 18 and over). For the first time ever, a carnival dance extravaganza… three bands delivering furious dance beats plus circus performers, DJs and exotic carnival costumes. Expect funky rhythms underpinned by melodic horns from Bahamas’ 12-piece Junkanoo Commandos, Balkan afrobeat from Backyard Rhythm Orchestra and African drumming from Anansi.

Tickets cost £10 and are available from the website or 0131 473 2000.

Free events are also on offer:-

Weekday COSTUME WORKSHOPS will be led by Junkanoo Commandos. Participants of all abilities have the opportunity to feather and colour-splash their way to a full carnival costume, which they can then wear for the Carnival Parade – or alternatively, make one for a friend or relative to wear! The workshops take place on Monday 7th, Tuesday 8th, Monday 14th and Tuesday 15th July, from 6-8pm at Out of the Blue Drill Hall (ages 18 and over).

Participants are encouraged to come on all four nights in order to complete a full costume. Basic materials are supplied and booking is essential. Please email

There are family-friendly COMMUNITY WORKSHOPS led by Junkanoo Commandos at locations across Edinburgh, with the same rousing mix of music, dance and costume-making. They take place on 7th and 8th July in Wester Hailes WHALE Arts Agency (ages 5 and over); 15th and 16th July in Goodtrees Neighbourhood Centre (ages 5 and over); and 17th July in West Pilton Neighbourhood Centre (ages 5-12).

Materials are supplied and booking is essential. Please contact the relevant community centre (WHALE Arts Agency: 0131 458 3267, Goodtrees Neighbourhood Centre: 0131 672 2629, West Pilton Neighbourhood Centre: 0131 551 3194).

Gina Ahmed from West Pilton Neighbourhood Centre said:

“I would just like to say thanks for this fantastic opportunity for local children and families to see a snapshot of such an amazing performance and for the children to be involved in the workshops. We’re really looking forward to it.”

Jane Prowse from Goodtrees Neighbourhood Centre said:

“The Junkanoo Commandos will help us celebrate 10 years of Goodtrees Neighbourhood Centre, providing opportunities for all ages in Moredun. It is a wonderful opportunity for local people to get involved with the Jazz & Blues Festival.

There will be an exciting JAZZ WORKSHOP sponsored by the South African Government and led by acclaimed South African trumpeter, Ian Smith. Participants can enjoy the unique opportunity to play alongside Artscape’s Youth Band, a collection of youth musicians from the Cape Town townships. On the 16th and 17th July from 7-10pm at Old St Pauls in the Old Town (ages 16 and over) the band will come together with local group Tinderbox, which promotes opportunities for young people on the Edinburgh contemporary arts scene. Participants can come along to learn South African rhythms and melodies, then join the Carnival Parade with these fantastic groups.

Suitable for musicians with Grade 4 and higher ability who can play on the move. Instruments not provided and booking is essential. Please email

Edinburgh Festival Carnival organisers are also looking for VOLUNTEERS to support the Carnival and all of the supporting events. Volunteer positions (for ages 18 and over) as stewards, liaison and production support are available for the workshops, party and Carnival, offering great ways to get involved or to support career development. We are also looking for participants – adults and children alike – to enjoy a rare opportunity to wear professional carnival costumes on the day and take part in the Parade!

For all volunteer opportunites, contact or call 0131 467 5200.




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