Leicester Caribbean Carnival and Notting Hill Carnival.

It’s Carnival time! But where did it originate? Why did it come to the UK? And why do we celebrate it?

The celebration of Carnival has a complicated origin, however the roots of the festival are believed to follow the tradition of abstaining from eating meat and consuming alcohol with the belief that it would drive away negativity and misfortune; the word “Carnival” itself is thought to mean “farewell to meat” or “farewell to flesh,” which supports the theory of this belief.

From Trinidad to Tobago, Carnival spread to many other islands, where the traditions of ‘Carnival’ began to fuse with unique local cultures. In Antigua they held Salsa showcases, whilst in Dominica Calypso music became increasingly popular and in Trinidad and Tobago their celebrations were deep rooted within both Calypso and Soca music.

Each and every culture has adopted their own celebration of Carnival, but the overall meaning of the celebration remains the same. In African/ Caribbean tradition the celebrations commence on the street; Carnival is all about celebrating native culture and emancipation through dress, music, and dancing.

During the Carnival period, revellers can be seen parading in bright costumes laced with beads, glitter and feathers, along with masks and dazzling headdresses. It is customary to dance to loud, cultural music and of course play or listen to steel drum performances. The opening of the show is referred to as ‘J’ouvert’ which translates to ‘dawn’ or ‘daybreak’ and is traditionally an early morning celebration at which Calypso/Soca bands and their followers dance through the streets. The festival begins well before dawn and reaches its peak a little after sunrise.

Along with the further celebrations commencing after J’ouvert there is the exciting coronation of the years elected Carnival King and Queen, an extremely high honour to be bestowed with during the celebration period. The elected royalty can be seen wearing the most extravagant, lavish costumes in the parade and are hailed by their carnival followers.

But how did carnival make its way to the UK? To answer that, I must first introduce you to a very inspiring black woman named Claudia Jones. Originally born in Trinidad in 1915, Claudia moved to Harlem, New York with her parents when she was just eight years old. In her youth she became part of the American Communist Party whose ethos was to offer a voice and social equality for individuals fighting for black civil rights. Due to being involved in such activities, in 1948 Claudia was arrested and made to serve the first of four periods in prison. Following a year in Alderson Federal Reformatory for Women, she was deported but denied entry back in to Trinidad and because of this she was granted asylum in the UK in 1955.

There is no doubt that Claudia Jones is a legacy in the history of Carnival, which she helped to launch on the 30th January 1959, beginning as an annual showcase for Caribbean talent. The early celebrations were held in concert halls, but soon manifested in to even larger celebrations, which are still progressing today.

This month we are thrilled to announce that we will once again be taking part in the celebrations at Leicester Caribbean Carnival, something we look forward to every year on the first Saturday of August. This year, we will back even bigger and even better! The exciting theme has been

announced as ‘It’s a Latino Fiesta’ so prepare yourselves for bright colours, vibrant music and even more crafty activities! The best thing is, our arts and crafts services are all for free!

Another event that you will not want to miss out on this August is the infamous Notting Hill Carnival. Join London’s biggest and best street carnival and watch as West London comes alive with Caribbean colours, music and flavours. The event takes place over three days during Augusts bank holiday weekend and offers a range of different activities for all ages. You can watch the carnival parade of elaborate floats and colourful costumed performers, listen to the sounds of live steel bands and calypso music or why not tempt your taste buds with some authentic Caribbean food throughout the day?

The Notting Hill Carnival was first established back in 1966 as a remake of the popular Trinidad Carnival, with the purpose of celebrating Caribbean culture and traditions in London. It takes place on the streets of London W10 and W11, usually around the areas of Notting Hill, Ladbroke Grove, Westbourne Grove, Westbourne Park and Kensal Road.

Initially Notting Hill Carnival only attracted around 500 people, but since then it has become the largest street festival in Europe. Based on previous years, you can now expect to see around 50,000 performers in the parade, dancing to over 30 sound systems, with an average of more than 1 million people attending the event during its three day period.

So what are you waiting for? Put these two amazing dates on your ‘to do’ list! Although Iliffe Arts celebrates culture every day, we still look forward to those special celebrations where people really do come together to celebrate where they came from!


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Happy World Environment Day

Today marks a celebration that runs deep within our company roots, World Environment Day! Every year on the 5th June we celebrate the environment by raising global awareness about how you can take positive environmental action to protect nature and the planet. The celebration is run by the United Nations Environment Programme who co-ordinate environmental activities and assist developing countries by implementing environmentally active policies and practices.

Other than being an alternative education provider, here at Iliffe Arts we hope to spread our message through environmentally safe and productive practices; our RECC Project embodies just that.


The ‘RECC Project ’ (Recycle, Educate, Community, Crafts,) incorporates arts and crafts into creating environmentally friendly products. Part of our aim as a social enterprise is to educate people about how they can go green/ozone friendly.  This project offers the local community fun, interactive workshops in which we give pre-used objects a new lease of life by re-inventing them. What we do helps to decrease pollution by stopping excess waste being thrown into landfill sites. The project uses recycled materials, which we then sell in our ‘Up-Cycle Shop’ to fund our Community Craft Workshops.

Our best selling products are part of the ‘Reggae Range’ with a bespoke collection of BBQ’s which are made to order in your own unique designs and colours, amongst many more exciting collections soon to be launched.
















So what can YOU do to help the environment? Not to fear, we’ve put together a list of some fun things you can do this June to reduce your carbon footprint and celebrate World Environment Day!

  1. Clean out your closet and donate to charity.
  2. Get gardening and plant some new flowers.
  3. Go Vegetarian or Vegan for the day.
  4. Participate in a community clean-up.
  5. Get crafty and start your own recycled art project.
  6. Go for a walk.
  7. Play outdoor sports in your local park.
  8. Go on a bike ride.
  9. Go on a nature trail with your family.
  10. Grow your own food.
  11. Volunteer at your local charity shop.
  12. Build a bird feeder.
  13. Start your own eco blog.
  14. Make-do-and-mend, fix up old clothing.
  15. Start a compost heap.
  16. Have a garage sale.
  17. Visit a farmers market and buy locally sourced foods.
  18. Go strawberry picking.
  19. Set up a nature based photo shoot.
  20. Do some baking using organic ingredients.
  21. Support, volunteer or share info about Iliffe Arts RECC Project or attend a community craft workshop.
  22. Buy an up-cycled creation for the Iliffe Arts Up-Cycle Shop. Order your BBQ form the Reggae Range TODAY ready for the summer.
  23. Donate your unwanted things to us for our Up-Cycle Shop creations or donate to the RECC Project Crowd Fund.

The possibilities are endless! There is always a way in which you can contribute towards making your life more Eco-friendly and creative, so why not give it a try? Share and comment below to let us know what you will be doing this World Environment Day!

By Kirsti-Mai Scrivens

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Malcolm X Month

This month on the 19th May we celebrate Malcolm X Day – the day he was born and the day he is appreciated by people across the world, each and every passing year.

But what did he do? Why was he so influential? Born on the 19th May, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska, he was the fourth child of eight, to parents Louise and Earl Little.  His father was a preacher and an active member of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, but due to his civil rights activism, the whole of his family was subjected to regular harassment from a number of white supremacist groups including the Ku Klux Klan.

Malcolm X had a particularly troubled childhood which lead on to his teens and played a part in how he presented himself as an adult. In fact, while still being carried by his mother, Malcolm was a victim of abuse from the Ku Klux Klan who tormented and terrorised his family by riding up to their home brandishing shotguns and threatening violence.

After years of abuse Earl Little moved his family out of Omaha, but the racism towards them continued to grow – even resulting in their family home being burned to the ground. Amidst the abuse, Earl Little was found dead after a suspected accidental hit and run – despite his family believing he was specifically targeted. After his passing, Malcolm’s mother Louise was admitted to a mental institute and the family was split up and sent to different foster homes.

As years passed Malcolm became involved in criminal acts and drug dealing to fund his new found life style, he delved deeper in to the criminal underground to afford luxury suits and expensive nights out which resulted in him carrying out a 10 year long prison sentence.

Whilst incarcerated he found refuge in Islam and embraced the ideology of Black Nationalism. The idea suggested that in order to secure freedom, justice and equality, black Americans needed to establish their own state entirely separate from white Americans. Malcolm converted to the Nation of Islam before his release from prison in 1952.

However, years later Malcolm became part of a dispute with his hero and mentor Elijah Muhammad in 1963. After learning that Elijah had violated a number of his teachings by having extramarital affairs and fathering several children, Malcolm made the decision to leave the Nation of Islam in 1964.

The next few years of his life took a turn for the better. After an extended trip through North Africa and the Middle East, Malcolm found spiritual self-realisation and began to reflect upon his past wrong doings and mistakes. Upon returning to the states ready to share his new found insight, he was assassinated on the 21st February 1965 before he could deliver his speech.

In the aftermath of his death, Malcolm’s spiritual transformation was ignored by many who continued to paint him as a trouble maker, but following the publication of his autobiography – he will be remembered as the man who fought and demonstrated the great lengths a human is willing to go to secure their own freedom.

Famously quoted saying “Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it.” Malcolm X will be remembered by the thousands who continue to stand up for what he believed in.

Iliffe Arts strives to support ALL CACH Children of African Caribbean Heritage to reach their full potential in life & education! We specialise in providing Alternative Education and Kids Clubs for CACH children bridging the extra barrios that this group of children may face, as well as celebrating our diverse positive identities and promoting guest role models.

Visit Iliffe Arts Projects page on our website to see all about the latest CACH Project news CACH Alternative Education Projects & Summer CACH and CACH Kids Club (blow).


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International Dance Day

Each year in April, we celebrate this iconic day because it is important to our business and what we stand for. As a specialist arts, alternative education and social enterprise business, we use all forms of Dance and physical expression to inspire, educate, allow children to express themselves and communicate positively.

This day of celebration was first introduced on the 29th April 1982 by the International Dance Council. From this day forward, International Dance Day has been celebrated annually and holds the purpose of attracting the attention of the wider public in to the artistic world of dance. Although it is not linked to any particular performer, it is also the day that French dancer and ballet master Jean-Georges Noverre was born.

Jean-Georges Noverre (Wikipedia)


‘’ Jean-Georges Noverre (29 April 1727 – 19 October 1810) was a French dancer and ballet master, and is generally considered the creator of ballet d’action, a precursor of the narrative ballets of the 19th century.’’ Wikipedia



This day is embraced by dancers from across the world who in previous years have celebrated the event in a range of different ways. In 2005 the Dance Council proposed for the celebrations to be carried out in schools by writing essays about dance, painting and drawing dance pictures and performing to their peers, whilst in 2014 an estimated 50 classical dancers took part in a flash mob in Chennai, South India.

Every year, the president of the International Dance Council sends out the official message for the celebrations to begin, which circulates in every country around the world and is posted on the official website for the celebration.

This International Dance Day, Iliffe Arts are celebrating the achievements and career of the talented and inspirational black ballerina, model and role model, Michael DePrince. We hope you are as inspired by her story as we are. AGAINST ALL ODDS



Visit her website to see what she is up to now:

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Elimination of Racial Discrimination Day

Today is the international Elimination of Racial Discrimination Day. The purpose of the day is to remind people of how racial discrimination has serious negative consequences upon people’s lives. This is evident in the national and international news even today in 2018. It aims to encourage obligation and determination to decrease racial discrimination and strives to unite individuals despite their heritage, religion and decent.

This day of racial celebration was established six years after an event known as the Sharpeville Tragedy/ Massacre. On the 21st March 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people during a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa. The tragedy captured worldwide attention and was one of the contributing factors for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Day being put in to place.

Now, on this date a range of events and activities are arranged to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination and xenophobia across the world. Previous events have included webcasts from the United Nations headquarters featuring UN Leaders, “Voices of Youth” which is UNICEF’s online bulletin board for young people to post their opinions (with people speaking from Jamaica, Kazakhstan and the Philippines) , and a range of creative projects such as essays, photo/ art projects and articles promoting equality and the fight against injustice.

This day is something which is very important to our hearts here at Iliffe Arts as our service includes individuals of all race, religions and varying backgrounds – including those who have physical disabilities, learning difficulties, and mental health issues. Iliffe Arts celebrates everyone’s unique qualities and strengths.

A lot of what we do – especially our CACH Project that empowers Children of African and Caribbean Heritage, to build resilience via positive expression and communication, promote positive self-efficacy and respect, embracing all cultures. Building all CACH kids aspirations, learning about the achievements of positive role models, to reach their full potential.

Iliffe Arts Ltd will continue to work and fight against all forms of racial intolerance, but we need your help to do it. You can help our cause in a range of ways from liking and sharing our social media pages to donating through our website.

To find out more about what we do, and why this day is so important to us visit our About Page at

Have a great day

Iliffe Arts Team

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Bob Marley Day

Bob Marley At the Roxy Theater Los-Angeles on November 27th 1979 Image from

The words in my head ring out, “Don’t worry, ‘bout a thing” and I won’t because today is all about celebrating freedom and individuality, self-expression and music. What day is it you ask? None other than Bob Marley Day, one of the world’s most iconic Rastafarian musicians of his time.

Robert Nesta Marley Booker, known commonly as ‘Bob Marley’ was born on this day back in 1945 in Nine Mile – a small area in the north of Jamaica. He was, and still is, one of the most inspiring musicians of the Rastafarian movement and to this very day remains deeply rooted in the hearts, souls and minds of his peers and his hometown.

Recognised for some of his most famous songs including: “No Woman, No Cry”, “Jamming”, “One Love” and “Three Little Birds” to name a few, Marley died on the 11th May 1981 at the relatively young age of 36 due to cancer. It is astonishing to think about all that he achieved in his short time and to consider what more he could have given if he was still with us today.

In celebration of the musician, it was declared that every year on his birthday would be known as “National Bob Marley Day” and so here we are.

On this day, hundreds of Jamaicans stand silent at his resting place in the Nine Mile Cemetery, before slow whispers of his lyrics turn in to a chorus of his most renowned songs. Even after more than three decades since his passing, the Jamaican singer, guitarist and songwriter continues to lead the reggae movement worldwide with thousands of people travelling from across the globe to see the village where he was born and visit the resting place of the reggae icon.

For four whole days, his life is celebrated. There are a range of events held in his honour including a number of concerts at which some of his 14 children perform alongside a number of other artists. As well as this, there is a tour which begins where Marley was born (once a run-down shack with no electricity, now a refurbished museum) before heading to ‘Zion Rock Hill’ where the singer used to meditate. Next up is a place known as ‘The Pillow’ (referred to in his hit song “Talkin’ Blues”) where a Rasta-coloured rock lies; Marley used to rest his head here – just like you would with a pillow – when he was in need of inspiration. Lastly, finish the tour in the mausoleum to sing some well-known songs or pay tribute at Marley’s gravestone.

Jam Stone- Images from

Famously quoted saying “I don’t believe in death, neither in flesh nor in spirit.” his voice and his words are heard louder each passing year and will continue to live on forever.

So how are you spending the day? Leave a comment and let us know, we can’t wait to hear from you!

Click HERE to see the full range

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Leicester Caribbean Carnival 2017

On Saturday 5th August, Iliffe Arts joined in with the carnival theme ‘Let’s Celebrate’ by creating a huge community bunting flag made by the carnivals kids, adults and the whole family. In true carnival spirit there was lots of glitter, sequins and feathers in all the colours of the rainbow. By the end of the day we were all covered in glitter!
























During the day Iliffe Arts were also on the look out for support for our CACH Project.

This was a great success, and we were able to sign parents up to our mailing list to inform them of the next Free CACH Play Scheme. We also met people who were interested in volunteering for us, if you are interested in joining them it’s not too late to help out as a CACH ambassador, volunteer, role model or arts tutor. Just contact us here.

While we were celebrating the creativity of the whole carnival with bunting we were also showcasing some of our own creativity with the launch of our new Reggae Range. This is part of our new Up-cycling project, featuring Up-cycled BBQ’s made from oil drums. Get your order in now! Chose your own size, shapes, stand and even design a unique colour pattern which we will hand paint onto your BBQ if you wish. Visit our website for more info.







Visit our Up-cycle Shop to order yours now!

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CACH Summer School- Mon 1st- Fri 12th Aug 2016



During the first 2 weeks of August, Iliffe Arts ran our first CACH Project Summer School, for Children of African and Caribbean Heritage. (For more info about The CACH Project- click here) The project is being funded by Awards for All Lottery Grant, to enable us to provide a range of free fun and creative activities to support this group of often under-achieving children in the Leicester area aged 7-16.

Over the two weeks, the children enjoyed celebrating their cultural heritage and learning about positive black role models. We watched and discussed inspirational films such as “Remember the Titans’’ starring Denzel Washington. The Children created art work and learned how to safely use a craft knife to cut out the different shapes of their chosen national flags. They learnt some street dance routines with Leicester’s very own Carnival Queen 2016 Shereene Williams, learning positive body language, communication and performance skills.

At the end of the two weeks, the children took part in a show case of what they had been doing throughout the two weeks. They were dedicated and worked hard, to write and learn their lyrics and then successfully performed their rap with a microphone and in front of a live audience. For many this was a hard, new and daunting task to begin with, but they all worked hard to support each other and did themselves proud by putting on a dance and rap show for the parents, carers, and directors of Iliffe Arts.  The children were also able to record their rap alongside a local DJ, ‘Mista Siyah’, which was also a new and exciting opportunity for them that they thoroughly enjoyed.

The feedback from both parents and children has been extremely positive and Iliffe Arts has successfully been able to fulfil the aims of The CACH Project this summer. Thanks for all the support so far, this is only the beginning so watch out for Iliffe Arts CACH Celebrating Black History Month, during October Half term.

For more information click here

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CACH Summer school Live Rap Performance coming soon!

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Summer Arts Play Scheme


Two of Iliffe Arts tutors lead an Arts play scheme during the summer holidays in July and August. Children from ages 6-16 all enjoyed playing team games and creating public art work that was displayed in Leicester City centre as part of the City Festival.

The children created 6 large scale sculptures and were inspired by Totem Poles. They learnt all about the history, and purpose of the Totem Pole and created each sculpture in celebration of Leicester’s  diversity and multiculturalism.   The sculptures were displayed around the Cathedral Gardens just outside Leicester Cathedral in and amongst the amazing events of the City Festival on Saturday 29th Aurgust 2015.

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Iliffe Arts Christmas Craft

Iliffe Arts- Christmas all wrapped up Logo

Iliffe Arts- Christmas all wrapped up Logo

Iliffe Arts is delighted to be running some Christmas craft work shops this season. There will be lots of family festive treats to get involved in.

The workshops will be on the weekends of 13th, 14th,  20th and 21st December 2014 at Silver Arcade Leicester. For all to come along and create a festive creation or even a present for a loved one. Inspiring creative and innovative recycling, reusing and unique home made Christmas craft.


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