Thousands take to the streets as city’s festival season kicks off in style

THOUSANDS of families enjoyed a colourful new carnival on Princes Street as the summer festival season kicked off in style.

The inaugural event, which was organised to take the place of the traditional Festivals Cavalcade, saw colourful puppets, exotic bands and traditional bagpipers parade through the Capital’s most famous street and Princes Street Gardens.

Bunting and balloons blew in a gentle breeze as around 30,000 visitors enjoyed floating puppets, clowns on stilts and an array of themed bands.

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The sun shone during the two hours of entertainment, organised by the Jazz and Blues Festival, which residents and tourists branded a success.

Each of the bands and performers played small sets down the length of the route, ensuring everyone got a chance to see the best of the carnival.

Hannah Johnson, from Leith, who brought her two daughters aged four and six, said: “It’s been a lovely day for the girls, the weather has been pleasant and there’s been so much for them to see. They have particularly enjoyed the samba band and the colourful costumes making their way up and down the street. A few things have been a bit of a washout lately, so this is a nice thing to start off the festival season.”

Tourist Chris Little, 29, added: “It offered a bit of everything. You’ve got traditional bagpipe players to the backdrop of the Castle and then you’ve got brass bands and carnival shows. It’s a lovely day out just walking up and down the street.”

More than 20 international and local performers entertained bustling crowds from 2pm to 4pm, and various shows were also put on in Frederick Street, Hanover Street and Castle Street, including a traditional red double-decker bus, a puppet show and a fire engine display by Lothian and Borders Fire Service.

Carnival organiser Roger Spence said the atmosphere was “very positive”. He added: “For a first-time event, it was really quite remarkable. We’re very pleased with the weather, the quality of the bands and the heart and spirit of the musicians. I think it took people some time for them to understand that it wasn’t the cavalcade, but there was a very positive feeling. Bands came from New Orleans, Brazil and places were there is a very strong carnival tradition. I think the city made a good impression.”

Among the highlights was The Stooges Brass Band from New Orleans and Brazilian samba team Allysson Velez Drummers and Dancers.

The event finale saw several samba bands, led by the Edinburgh Samba School, come together to perform.

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Also among the performers was Bandakadabra, an Italian street band playing Balkan and Mediterranean music, Italian funky brass band Pink Puffers, Junkanoo Commandos – a carnival dance troupe from The Bahamas – and Liverpudlian reggae-samba drumming group Batala.