Enriching lives, connecting communities

Audiences to experience fusion of art and exercise in The Carnival Trail

Over May Day Bank holiday walkers on the Isle of Wight will be able to celebrate local carnival tradition with artistic events animating a 100 mile walking trail.

The Carnival Trail is managed by the Isle of Wight Council and will see collaboration with artists and Arts Council England National portfolio organisation The New Carnival Company.

The project is supported with an award of £37,105 from Arts Council England’s National Lottery funded Grants for the arts scheme.

The participatory arts walk will take place 3-7 May and links nine carnival towns and villages. The walk was devised by the New Carnival Company in partnership with Ali Pretty, outdoor artist; Richard White, digital artist and Jeni Law; performance director.

The Isle of Wight is recognised as the birthplace of the English carnival tradition, boasting 19 summer carnivals and six winter parades every year. For many carnival towns 2014 marks the 125th Anniversary of their first parades.

Over 50% of the Island is recognised as an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty including more than 500 miles of well-maintained footpaths. The Carnival Trail draws together these elements of tradition and nature in a community event that will headline the Isle of Wight Walking Festival 2014 (3-18 May), Britain’s largest Walking Festival.

Each leg of the five day walk connects iconic places and scenic landscapes in a celebration of the rich and diverse carnival heritage of the Island. A specially commissioned hand-painted silk banner, inspired by collected stories from each local carnival tradition, will be carried on each leg of the route. Mini parades involving Samba and Marching bands will greet the walkers as they arrive in each carnival town or village, accompanied by processions of school children bearing smaller handmade flags that were created in workshops with local artists.

Digital artist, Richard White will create soundscapes along the way; voices, poems and music will accompany the walkers en route.

Members of the public can join the whole five day walk, a single day, or just part of a day. People can even engage through digital interaction; being a virtual trail walker linked via a bespoke app and website.

An exhibition of the flags and banners, recordings and documentation will be on display at a local arts venue after the Walking Festival.

Find more detail on the event here

Chris Slann, Executive Director, The New Carnival Company CIC, said: ‘We are very excited to be kicking off a summer of carnival activity with this new project! This will be the very first time that the nine carnival associations on the Island have come together to work collaboratively on a major arts project so it is a landmark event which we hope will leave a very positive legacy, connecting local people and groups not only to each other but to the local environment.’

The cross fertilisation of art and walking will connect people with the landscape and immerse them in local culture, diversifying audiences for artistic activity and engaging people more deeply with health and wellbeing.

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