Tag Archives: butetown carnival

Butetown Carnival 2014 – in photos!

Okay, so it was a couple of months ago now … but I forgot to publish photographer Jess Ventura’s lovely pictures from the Butetown Carnival! What a silly selsig I am.

If you’re super-keen, next year’s carnival is already booked in – join the Butetown Carnival 2015 Facebook event to keep up to date on it!

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See you there next year? 🙂


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“Butetown has been changing all of my life” – Keith Murrell

In preparation for the first Butetown Carnival for 16 years, we asked organiser Keith Murrell to chew the cheese with us. The carnival takes place this Monday 25 August in Canal Park in Butetown. We hope to see you all there!

keith murrell by lann niziblian

(photo of Keith by Lann Niziblian)


Q. You’re involved in running the Butetown Carnival. Can you tell us something about the history of the event?

Keith. The first events I remember were in the mid 1960s (it was called Mardi Gras in those days) – I understand that there were smaller, more spontaneous things that preceded this.


Q. When did you get involved?

Keith. As a member of the local youth club in the early 1970s … as a musician in the early 80s … as an organiser in the early 90s.


Q. Is there a particular Butetown carnival that sticks out in your mind as being a great one?

Keith. I remember one of the earlier Mardi Gras’ which was a quite small event mostly taking place in a Marquee alongside the Community Centre … I guess this one sticks in my mind as it was all still new to me –and I saw ‘real’ people that I knew playing and singing something other than hymns … no doubt later Carnivals were ‘better’ but they were also quite similar to each other … and I also remember the first year our band got paid


Q. Do you live in Butetown? What’s your history in Cardiff?

Keith. I am Butetown born and bred and lived and worked in the community for most of my life – I currently live in Grangetown.


Q. What do you think about how Butetown has changed over the years?

Keith. Butetown has been ‘changing’ all of my life: the “slum clearance” programmes of the 60s had not actually been completed by the time of the urban regeneration led by CBDC in the 80s & 90s – which in turn has been followed by various area renewal schemes of the current era… the more things change the more they stay the same …

For me, the most significant changes have been in community demographics and characteristics … what was once the most diverse and cohesive communities has been replaced by ‘larger’ ‘minority’ groups with minimal interaction and integration.

I would say that this is a direct result of gerrymandering by Cardiff Council, Housing Associations and other service providers.


Q. Can you tell us something about the city in general? How has it changed?

Keith. Thinking about the city entity has all kinds of political and civic connotations – and my impression is “all fur coat and no knickers”… But I’m more interested in people and places around me … and there’s nowhere else that I would rather be.


Q. What’s your favourite place in Cardiff to go for a drink?

Keith. The kitchen sink


Q. Favourite place to get breakfast?

Keith. The settee


Q. Tell us a Cardiff secret or little known fact

Keith. Cardiff Castle is (mostly) a fake


Q. What are you hoping for this year at the Carnival?

Keith. That all kinds of people from all over will get together and feel alright – and develop a habit for it!


Keith Murrell will be mostly all over the Butetown Carnival, taking place this Monday 25 August in Canal Park. There’s also a Butetown Carnival Dance taking place this Saturday 23 August at Butetown Community Centre, with all proceeds going towards the Carnival. See you at the front!

butetown carnival dance




Butetown Carnival returns after 16 years! Monday 25 August 2014, be there!

After a massive break of 16 years, Butetown Carnival is returning to bring joy and good vibes to all of you on this Bank Holiday Monday, 25 August!

butetown carnival 2014

A steering committee led by community members and heavily supported by Butetown Community Centre won their bid  to bring back the Butetown Carnival this August Bank Holiday Monday. The carnival will be celebrating the rich musical heritage of the Butetown community.

Butetown Carnival began in the mid-1960s but came to an end in August 1998. Back in its glory days, the carnival attracted tens of thousands of people to enjoy performances, workshops, parades, market stalls and activities for children. Throughout its lifespan of 40 years, Butetown Carnival rivalled carnivals and festivals across the UK, including St Paul’s and Notting Hill.

Remember now that Butetown is the oldest multicultural community in the UK … so the decision to bring the carnival back to its former glory was taken one summer evening in 2013. Carrole Fox, General Manager at Butetown Community Centre said:

“You mention the carnival and the general response is –BRING IT BACK, so that’s what we’re doing, and we decided to just do it and not wait for yet another year. We know the carnival will be great this year, but we’re also aware that this is a journey so we’ll continue to build on it each and every year, so we can bring it back to its former glory.”

This year’s carnival will include two performance stages, both of which are supported by Butetown Carnival partners, Wales Millennium Centre. The stages – one acoustic and a main stage – will feature a variety of performances including jazz, blues, reggae and ska from celebrated local artists. Alongside live music, there will be market stalls, a parade to kick off the celebrations at 2.00pm, pop-up poetry and theatre and a huge flash-mob performance of the Electric Slide.

Simon Campbell, Chair of the Carnival’s Steering Committee said:

“We’ve received a lot of support from local businesses to get this year’s carnival off the ground, for which we are incredibly grateful. The Carnival holds a special place in all of our hearts; it reminds us of what a close community we were and I know this will bring us closer yet again.”

The Wales Millennium Centre is working in partnership with the carnival. Graeme Farrow, the Centre’s Artistic Director said:

“We’re thrilled to be working in partnership with the carnival’s steering committee to support the ambition of bringing the Carnival back to Butetown. The rich musical history and diverse culture of the area is cause for celebration and reflection. We are delighted to support in any way possible, particularly in helping to make the event sustainable.”

Response through social media sites about Butetown Carnival has been incredibly popular, with over 2000 people signing up, within two days of the page going live on Facebook. Keith Murrell, an active member of Butetown Community for many years, has been working tirelessly to pull together a creative programme that has a little something for everybody. He said:

“It’s important that the carnival is inclusive and has an ethical dimension. The carnival is made by the community and is for the community; we hope everyone will be out in force to support and enjoy the day.”

We’ll be running an interview with Keith later this week on We Are Cardiff, so stay tuned for that!

When? Where? How?

Butetown Carnival takes place on Bank Holiday Monday, 25 August 2014. It will begin with a parade in Loudoun Square at 2pm. Following the parade, performances and workshops will run throughout the day and night at Canal Park behind Butetown Community Centre, Butetown, Cardiff. We Are Cardiff will be wandering around, taking pictures and making a nuisance of ourselves. We hope to see you there!

Butetown Carnival Facebook Group

For anyone who wants to volunteer, there’s also a Facebook Group for Butetown Carnival Volunteers