Luton Carnival 2022 : When and where will the parade and celebrations take place?

  • Stuart Leithes previews the 2022 Luton International Carnival

After two years of Covid cancellations, Luton Carnival returns this bank holiday weekend with its familiar mix of colourful costumes and spectacular parade.

Thousands of spectators will line the route for the procession which will pass through the town centre for the first time since 2015.

Organisers said the festival was particularly needed after two tough years.

"It showcases the absolutely amazing diversity and cultural heritage of our town and it's so much loved," said associate artistic director Clary Salandry.

"It's going to bring all of our families together. And we're going to have a big party in Luton."

Where and when will the Luton Carnival celebrations take place?

The carnival kicks off at 12pm on Saturday 4 June with the procession beginning at Manor Park at 1pm.

It will snake along Park Street, Flowers Way, Market Hill, George Street, Manchester Road, Alma Street, Upper George Street, Bridge Street, before finishing on Guildford Street around 4.30pm.

A fun fair and playground will take place in Manor park with entertainment running in St George's Square running until 6pm.

Food and craft stalls will be based along George Street and next to Town Hall on Gordon Street.

Luton Carnival parade route for 2022 Credit: Luton International Carnival

Who to look out for at this year's Luton Carnival

Margaret Matthew is known as Auntie Margaret in the carnival world because she has been involved for almost 40 years.

Now 82, she was part of the Windrush generation that brought so much Caribbean flavour to Luton.

"We want everybody to come out and see us," she said. "Because carnival is a community thing. It brings the community together."

Margaret Matthew has been a key figure in the Luton Carnival for the last 40 years. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Marilyn Gearing was crowned Luton's first Hat Queen back in 1954 during a festival which was a forerunner to the carnival.

Aged just 15 at the time, she wore a crown made by a Luton milliner which was a replica of the one worn by the Queen at her coronation.

Now 84, Ms Gearing still takes part in the carnival every year, designing and making the Samaritans float that traditionally ends the parade.

"It's wonderful that it's back," she said. "Our town needs a lift after all the gloom and doom for the last two years.

"It's great to be here because I've missed them all. We're like a family really."

Marilyn Gearing was the original Queen of Hats for Luton. Credit: ITV News Anglia

History of Luton International Carnival

Luton has a history of parades dating right back to the 1400s.

Guild feasts and jubilees were celebrated as well as events to raise funds during the Second World War, VE Day commemorations, and Easter bonnet parades.

But the Caribbean carnival culture that can be seen today first came to the town in 1976.

Beginning as a Victorian fayre, it was first held to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Luton becoming a borough.

It has run nearly every year since - with the exception of the 2007 carnival which was cancelled due to flooding and the Covid pandemic which forced all celebrations to be put on hold for two years.

By 2012, Luton International Carnival had become the biggest one-day carnival in the UK.