Enriching lives, connecting communities

Mardi Gras

The Isle of Wight Mardi Gras, held in Ryde each summer at the end of the school term, is the company’s flagship event and showcases the very best of children and young people’s carnival experience through learning, creating and performance. We work closely with schools and colleges in the development of the event and the processes which contribute to it.

Formerly known as The Arts Parade (2003 to 2012) the procession takes inspiration from New Orleans Mardi Gras fused with Latin and Caribbean carnivals. Did you know that Mardi Gras means ‘fat Tuesday’ in French and that the word Carnevale comes from the Latin meaning ‘goodbye to meat’?  Both refer to the feasting and fasting associated with the Catholic tradition of Lent, celebrated in February in many countries around the world.  

The Mardi Gras parade has an overarching theme which is developed through a pictorial narrative and portrayed on the streets through carnival. The theme is chosen to fit comfortably within the national curriculum and topical areas of study, often in line with National celebrations or anniversaries.  In 2015 we celebrated Magna Carta 800 in association with The Houses of Parliament Historic Anniversaries programme; in 2016 the theme was Shakespeare 400 celebrating the life and works of Shakespeare on the anniversary of his death and in 2017 we celebrated the 70th anniversary of India’s Independence with ‘Reflections of India’. During 2018 and 2019 we worked closely with IW AONB to produce an educational carnival project around people, places and environmental sustainability which was instrumental in supporting the Island’s successful bid to make the Isle of Wight a dedicated UNESCO BIOSPHERE RESERVE.

Research and learning about the theme underpins the design of each costume section, contributed to by the young people themselves and made in creative workshops led by teachers, parents and volunteers.

Around 30 schools and community organisations take part every year, alongside samba bands and other arts organisations with some visiting carnival groups.

UPDATE for 2022

YES!!!!! Our annual Mardi Gras parade will  take place on the streets in Ryde LIVE again this year after two years cancellations caused by the pandemic.  Saturday 9 July. The theme is OUR WORLD, OUR FUTURE. New Carnival Company is also working with UK Centre for Carnival Arts and national carnival organisers to collaborate on a nation-wide programme for  National Childrens Carnival Week 9 – 15 July. The 2022 Mardi Gras will form part of the Opening Celebrations. 

LAUNCH Event: Tuesday 25 January, 4.30pm at Quay Arts, Newport. All welcome!


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