Porty carnival aims to make a big splash

PORTOBELLO is to stage its own Notting Hill-style carnival this summer.

A newly-formed community group is organising a week-long event to bring a slice of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to Porty beach.

Portobello Open Door (POD) has been set up by local artists, musicians, performers and writers to integrate the area into the Fringe and promote arts in the community.

Running from August 9-17, the Big Beach Bash will include an outdoor carnival, cabaret, multicultural dance and costume and puppet- making workshops. The event will culminate in a Notting Hill-style carnival at the seaside with a display of puppets, fancy dress, music and dance.

POD organisers plan to approach the Fringe office to encourage acts to perform at the Beach Big Bash.

Sheila McWhirter, POD convener, said: "I had the idea because I know a lot of people in Portobello who are artists, performers and musicians and they were interested in doing something for the Fringe.

"We are trying to do something for the community and bring the Fringe to Portobello.

"People are being creative anyway so they deserve to have a mechanism for giving them a platform. If we create things artistically, then we create culture and we create a community."

The Big Beach Bash will also include a festival of the spoken word, family ceilidh, ecology event and young people’s concert. Lorna Gow is staging a multicultural dance festival as part of the Big Beach Bash. It will take place on August 9 and will include Arabic, Malaysian, Latin American, African and Maori dance. She said: "I moved to Portobello a year ago and I thought POD would be a really good way of getting involved in the artistic side of the place.

"We are going to be doing belly dancing on the beach and we have various workshops planned where we will be teaching belly dancing and salsa to adults and children who will take part in the parade."

POD will be launched at Portobello Town Hall tomorrow with a night of entertainment featuring African drummers, stiltwalkers, puppets, music and dance.

The fundraising launch will feature music, dance, theatre, cabaret and a charity auction from 7pm.

A spokeswoman for Edinburgh and Lothians Tourist Board said: "Portobello is trying hard to recapture the atmosphere that made it such a popular tourism destination in the past.

"It’s great that the town is taking advantage of its super beach and an abundance of visitors and we hope the sun shines for the occasion."

Robert Gatliff, secretary of Portobello Community Council, added: "Portobello Community Council is delighted to support POD. There are an increasing number of very active groups in Portobello reflecting a real feeling of a vibrant community."

A council spokeswoman said it had given POD advice to help develop the programme, but were unable to provide funding.

"We welcome POD’s initiative to develop an event which will attract more visitors into Portobello and will also be enjoyed by local people who will benefit from an increased profile of Portobello as a vibrant and attractive area," she said.


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