It’s that time of year again, almost like it never leaves – meetings have begun, banners are hung and traffic safety courses are done, that’s right, it’s Ilkley Carnival. Approach PR’s MD, Suzanne and her family have been involved with the carnival for many years. Below, her daughter Melissa talks about her experiences and why Ilkley Carnival is such a special event for the local community:

The Ilkley Carnival experience

I first experienced the carnival on a visit to see my grandparents, I was pretty young and couldn’t quite appreciate the scale of what I was seeing. To me, hundreds of children parading the street as packs of cards and Harry Potter characters was just something towns did. It soon became an annual tradition and I watched in awe from the pavement as the parade went past, wondering what it must be like to be a part of something so big. Which is why I was beside myself aged 11 when we moved to Ilkley just in time for me to get the opportunity to partake in something I’d watched in wonderment for so many years. I walked with All Saints school, striding down the grove and looking at the crowds I had been one of and relishing now being a part of the show.

Giving back to the community

The carnival is phenomenal for the community, giving back its profits to the town, with last year’s event raising £15,000 through sponsorship, donations and ticket sales. This went to local charities and £300 was even donated to the parish council to help fund the town’s Christmas tree. It raises Ilkley’s profile for tourism and provides a fun-filled day out for families. It also gives local businesses the chance to engage with their community through the charity and trade stands. But, even without all this, Ilkley Carnival would still be important to me and to a whole host of others who have been lucky enough to be part of it through the years.

Last year, more than 1,000 children from local schools and theatre groups took part in the parade. That’s 1,000 children given the opportunity to get creative in the weeks leading up to the day. This involved proposing ideas and making their costumes, learning about Children’s Literature or The Best of British, or old TV. 1,000 children got to dress up and walk down the streets of their town to music and the cheers of their community. I have never felt more self-assured, supported and thrilled than I did arm in arm with my friends, being ‘whooped’ every step of the way. It’s such a gift to be a part of and it’s a gift Ilkley Carnival bestows on more than 1,000 children every year.

It is a wonder for the community and a brilliant thing for businesses, schools and extracurricular clubs to come together and produce, providing funds to charities who need them. But on top of that, it’s impossible to put a numerical value on something which galvanises the community the way Ilkley Carnival does. For one day a year, everyone comes out to celebrate the town’s children, businesses and families and all the while pouring all profits back into the community. If there’s ever a cause to get involved with, you will not find one more fulfilling than Ilkley Carnival, not just supporting one establishment, but the pillar of a community that is behind Ilkley itself.

To learn more about the carnival, head to the website