Cowley Road Works and a short history of the Carnival
2000 – Regeneration required: East Oxford Action worked with local groups to help revive Cowley Road. Carnival as we know it today was born and the Cowley Road got its groove back.
2001 – Humble beginnings: The first Cowley Road Carnival, held in Manzil Way to a crowd of 5,000.
2002 – Carnival takes shape: A Carnival Coordinator was appointed and events company Continental Drifts were in charge of production. The Cowley Road was closed for a small procession and Manzil Gardens accommodated the main stage.
2003 – First funding: The Carnival obtained public funding for the first time thanks to Oxford City Council and the Arts Council, and attracted sponsorship from what is now Midcounties Co-operative. The first full procession was staged on Cowley Road.
2004 – Road closed: The Carnival was granted permission to completely close the Cowley Road for the whole of the Carnival, completely transforming the event and creating a whole new vibe.
2005 – Growth: By now the Carnival was attracting 25,000 people to the Cowley Road. A grant from the Urban Cultural Programme (via Oxford Inspires) allowed a much larger event, do much more with local communities and involve schools and young people. Workshops began for creating the spectacular Carnival costumes that are symbolic of the event.
2006 – Take a break: A food-focused event without a procession took place instead this year. The event went back to its roots, relying on performers playing for free and local businesses sponsoring large parts of the event. MINI Plant Oxford gave support for the first time, proving to be hugely successful.
2007 – 1000 years of Oxfordshire: Thanks to generous funding from MINI Plant Oxford, Oxford City Council and others, the Cowley Road Carnival was back – complete with procession.
2008 – Giant puppets: 20 000 people braved the rain on the Cowley Road, thrilled by the spectacular giant puppets among the procession, which had been created by community groups with local artists trained by Mandinga Arts. Albanian, Czech and Polish communities participated in Carnival, and there was also a focus on South American culture.