It’s carnival time at Lord Mayor’s Celebrations

The sun is shining, summer is here — it's time to party. Norwich will this weekend echo to the sights and sounds of carnival with the Lord Mayor's Celebrations. SIMON PARKIN has a look at what's in store.

Take 60 floats full of outlandishly costumed party-goers, some Take That hits and thousands of revellers. Mix them together and what have you got? The recipe for another fun-filled Lord Mayor's Celebration.

While the Royal Norfolk Show is over for another year, Norwich is gearing up for a weekend feast of entertainment, featuring performers from all over the world.

Many of the events are free, so it's a great opportunity to get out and about and enjoy our fine city at its best.

This year's the celebrations will be getting into the carnival spirit right from the off with a children's 'Carniv-Isle' this evening.

Organised by Spirit of Carnival – the group who put on last year's successful Fridi Gras parade – the Carniv-Isle will be taking inspiration from different island cultures, such as Jamaica, Japan, Trinidad, Hawaii and New Zealand.

It will be an evening of carnival, music and dance featuring a range of children's and young people's groups and performers from across Norwich – starting with a street procession and ending with a showcase at The Forum.

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The free family event starts at 6.45pm from the Norwich Cathedral gates on Tombland for a procession through the streets of Norwich before arriving at The Forum for the showcase from 7.15pm.

This year the carnival also sees the revival of a much loved and much missed tradition, the Gas Hill Gasp, also taking place tonight from 7pm, that will see dozens of cyclists on all manner of bikes attempting to make it to the top of Norwich's steepest street.

Of course, the centrepiece of the weekend will be the carnival procession on Saturday evening, when dozens of colourful floats, along with gymnasts, dancers, drummers and costumes, that will snake through the city centre.

It will this year again set off at the earlier time of 5pm and finish at 7pm.

Brenda Arthur, leader of Norwich City Council, said: 'The Lord Mayor's Celebration is all about celebrating Norwich and the people that make it what it is - individuals, families, community groups and businesses.

'Saturday's street procession is the highlight of the weekend, and a chance to shine for anyone who takes part. There's not long left to get entries in, so if anyone still has to get their forms in to take part, please make sure you do it soon so you don't miss out.'

Previous years have seen a pirate ship, Alice in Wonderland and Dancing Queens taking part. And this year the council is on the hunt for as many people as possible to make the event bigger and better than ever.

Helen Selleck, culture and events manager at Norwich City Council, said: 'The Lord Mayor's parade is the biggest attraction over the celebration weekend. It covers a huge area of the city and is just so much fun.

'It really is a case of the more the merrier...the more groups there are, the more there is for people to see, and those taking part in the procession will get more support from the crowds.'

She added: 'We're not setting a theme this year to encourage people to be as creative as possible. We really want to see everyone's carnival spirit, whether it's through dance or crazy costumes, the more fun the better!'

All the money raised at this year's parade will go to the Big C, this year's civic charity chosen by the Lord Mayor Jenny Lay and the Sheriff, Chris Higgins.

The Lord Mayor officially began her civic year in office at City Hall with a traditional procession at Norwich Cathedral last weekend. Now she is looking forward to kicking off her civic term in style.

'I'm really looking forward to this year's Lord Mayor's Celebrations,' she enthused. 'They are such a special thing to be a part of, and a fantastic opportunity for people across the city to enjoy some world class entertainment.

'The highlight of the celebrations for me is going to be taking part in the Lord Mayor's street procession.

'There are always so many fun and creative participants, it's such a great family event.

'If you're not in the procession, then please go into the city to cheer on those that are – it really makes all the difference to see the crowds enjoying themselves too.

'The vast majority of the events are free, so perfect for those on any budget. Most importantly, the celebrations are a chance for everyone who attends to donate to the Lord Mayor's civic charity. This year it is Big C, and we are hoping to raise a significant amount to support the hard work that this organisation does in the local area.'

n Watch out for your Evening News special edition on Saturday, with a full preview of everything that is going on at the Lord Mayor's Celebrations, and keep an eye on for picture galleries and live updates of all the fun.

n Don't miss: The Evening News will include a 12-page special picture supplement on Monday for you to keep as a memento of this year's celebrations.