Roots – Carnival Traditions in St. Kitts And Nevis

A large majority of the people involved in the founding and development of the Leeds West Indian Carnival were migrants from the Caribbean islands of St. Kitts and Nevis. Others were from Trinidad and Tabago, Jamaica, and Barbados. Traditional West Indian Carnival has its origins in Trinidad and Tobago. From there, the idea of Carnival spread North across the Caribbean islands. Each island has its own traditions that predate the arrival of Trinidadian Carnival. This includes the Crop Over in Barbados, Junkanoo in Jamaica and Christmas Sports in St. Kitts and Nevis.

In St. Kitts and Nevis the tradition of Christmas Sports dates back to the days of slavery. People celebrated Christmas and New Year’s Day by taking to the streets dancing, singing, playing music, and performing. The Christmas Sports have their roots in the British tradition of the Mummers’ plays. Mummers’ plays are folk plays performed outside by amateurs, often at Christmas and other religious holidays. Mummers’ plays in England date back to the 13th Century and are still performed in some parts of the country today. The tradition came to St. Kitts and Nevis with the arrival of the English in the 17th Century. In St. Kitts and Nevis, enslaved Africans added African traditions to the Mummers’ plays and they became known as Christmas Sports.

A troupe performing David and Goliath, 1901.

During the Christmas period, troupes of performers would don costumes and travel from village to village, performing.  The Christmas Sports include Bible stories such as David and Goliath as well performances based on religious literature such as the Giant Despair from The Pilgrim’s Progress. Shakespeare Lesson used speeches from Shakespeare plays including Richard III and Julius Caesar. Other performances were based on the Mummers’ plays known as Mummies. The Mummies have a cast of 13 characters including saints, knights, kings, dragons and giants. There were also performances based on local stories and histories such as the Bull and The Mongoose Play. Others took their inspiration from American culture such as the cakewalking Millionaires and Cowboys and Indians. Neaga Business mocked the white elite. Some Christmas Sports such as the stilt walking Moko Jumbies have their roots in Africa while others like the Clowns and Masquerade are a mix of African and European traditions. Other types of Christmas Sports included Sagwa, Actors, and Soldiers. These performances would be accompanied by music. Several types of music were popular at the Christmas Sports. They included String Bands, Big Drum and Fife Bands, Quadrille music, and Iron Bands. Alan Lomax’s field recordings made in June 1962 (and available on CD) gives the listener an idea of what the Christmas Sports sounded like during the period when Leeds West Indian Carnival pioneers were migrating from the islands to England. Iron Bands first began forming in St. Kitts and Nevis in the 1940s. These bands were similar to the early steel pan bands formed in Trinidad around the same time. They used makeshift percussion instruments such as car rims, oil drums, and spoon and grater. String bands also included makeshift instruments including the Baha, a long metal pipe that is blown, and the Shack-Shack, a milk tin containing beads.Each neighborhood had its own big drum and fife band,  each one with it’s own name. There was revivary between the bands, the same way there was revivary between the steel pan bands in Trinidad. The revivary between the bands could become violet and clashes would occur.

The Alan Lomax recordings also include examples of Calypso music which had originated in Trinidad and had become popular across the Caribbean in the 1950s. Calypso music could be heard on imported records but was more commonly heard on radio or jukeboxes. While Trinidadian calypsonians like Lord Kitchener and The Mighty Sparrow were popular on the islands there was local calypsonians too. The 1950s saw the rise of stars such as Mighty Kush, Lord Mike, Lord Harmony, and Mighty Saint. The popularity of calypso on the islands was down to, in part, the similarities it shared with the pre-existing folk music written and performed by musicians knowns as troubadours. As their name suggests their origins lay in the troubadours of Europe, a type of musician whose influence can be seen across the Caribbean. (In Haiti they called Twoubadou in Haitian Creole). The troubadours of St. Kitts and Nevis were solo performers who, for a price, could be hired to perform their latest tunes in your home. They performed self-penned topical songs, sometimes with serious lyrics and other times with comical but always clever and entertaining.

String Band in St. Kitts, 1964.

Steel pan bands were introduced to St. Kitts and Nevis in the 1950s by Education Officer Lloyd Matheson. The island’s first steel pan band was the Wilberforce Steel Pan Band led by Roy Martin. Other pioneers of steel pan music in St. Kitts and Nevis include Cecil ‘Moonlight’ Roberts who brought steel pans from Antigua in 1952, which increased interest in the instrument. Steel pan bands in St. Kitts and Nevis during this period included The Invaders, The Boston Tigers, The Eagle Squadron, and Casablanca.

Trinidadian-style carnival was introduced to St. Kitts and Nevis by Basil Henderson in 1957. He formed the first carnival committee whose members included Agnes Skerritt and Doris Wall. Cromwell Bowry, Cyril Frederick, and Chief of Police Major Leonard Alphonso also made significant contributions to the carnival during its early beginnings. St. Kitts and Nevis also adopted The Calypso King contest from Trinidad Carnival. The first Calypso King of St. Kitts was Mighty Kush. The 1960s saw the introduction of Brass Bands to the carnival, however, string bands, steel pan bands, and calypso music remained a popular part of the proceedings.

Carnival in St. Kitts, 1957.

Memories of the Christmas Sports and carnival in St. Kitts and Nevis acted as the foundation on which the Leeds West Indian Carnival was built. Many people who were later involved in the Leeds West Indian Carnival were involved in or witness to the Christmas Sports and carnival in St. Kitts and Nevis. For some, involvement in the Christmas Sports went back generations.  Reginald Challenger’s father was a member of a troupe of Masqueraders in St. Kitts.  St. Clair Morris’ grandfather had been a drummer with a troupe of Masqueraders in St. Kitts. In Nevis, Mitch Wallace’s father had played the Big Drum and his grandfather had played fife. Mitch Wallace was a member of a troupe in Nevis from as early as the age of eight. He recalls performing in David and Goliath and reciting lines from the Bible in-between dance performances. Mitch’s cousin, Felina Hughes would help with costume preparation but was too shy to take part herself. She enjoyed watching Mitch perform but admits being afraid of the Mocko Jumbies. Hughbon Condor, on the other hand, was fascinated by the Mocko Jumbies and attempted, unsuccessfully, to build his own stilts. Arthur France also recalls being wary of the Christmas Sports as a child but later enjoyed watching David and Goliath. His parents allowed him to watch the Christmas Sports but refused to allow him to take part. He developed a lifelong passion for steel pan music. Artie Davies was too young to take part in the Christmas Sports but grew up enjoying the music of St. Kitts and particularly enjoyed calypso. Under the name Lord Kingston, he performed calypso music on street corners with a cuatro.  Rex Watley played with a steel band in St. Kitts and Henry Freeman and Albert Henry learnt to play Big drum and Kettle drum (respectively) in Nevis. Reginald Challenger has memories of homemade instruments. Calvin Beach was a member of the Eagle Squadron Clown Troupe. He remembers the troubadours in Nevis and the revivary between the big drum and fife bands. He also recalls a Christmas Sport called Sagwa. In 1957 he took part in the first carnival held in St. Kitts as part of the Arabian Nights troupe.

Leeds carnival pioneers came from other parts of the Caribbean too. Their memories and experiences were vital to the founding of the West Indian Carnival in Leeds. In Trinidad, Ian Charles had been a member of a Sailor Band since the age of 16, although his dream was to be a Midnight Robber. He recalls witnessing the violent rivalry between steel bands that was common in Trinidad at the time.

St. Kitts 1957 (Calvin Beach collection)
Calvin Beach in St. Kitts Carnival, 1957.

Mass migration, first to other Caribbean islands and later to England, was one of the main factors behind the disappearance of some of the Christmas Sports during the 1950s and 1960s. Among those lost was David and Goliath and Millionaires. The introduction of Trinidadian Carnival, large steel bands and recorded Soca music also contributed to the Christmas Sports’ downfall. Despite this Christmas Sports have survived in St.Kitts and Nevis and their influence can still be seen at Leeds West Indian Carnival, especially in the performance of the Masquerade which are a common sight at Leeds Carnival. (Often performed by a group from Montserrat). Over the years The Bull, Moko Jumbies, Neaga Business and even David and Goliath have been performed during the carnival celebrations in Leeds. 

Masquerade at Leeds Carnival, 2017

Roots – Carnival Traditions in The Caribbean

The wearing of masks dates back to the Stone Age with the earliest known example of a mask dating to 7,000 BC. Traditions of wearing masks and costumes while dancing to music during a procession can be found in many Ancient cultures. The earlies European carnivals were celebrated by the Ancient Greeks who borrowed the idea from Ancient Egyptian traditions. The Ancient Egyptians also practised traditional stick-fighting which was performed to music, similar to the Calinda tradition found in the Caribbean. The Ancient Romans continued the carnival tradition which became a Christian festival in Medieval Europe and spread across the Christian world where it became associated with the Christian month of Lent.  One theory says the word ‘Carnival’ comes from the Late Latin expression ‘carne levare’ which means ‘remove meat’. Another says it comes from ‘carne vale’ which means ‘farewell to meat’. In either case, the word signifies the approaching fast of Lent.

Carnival in Rome circa 1650. 

When Europeans arrived in the Caribbean they brought their traditions with them. This included masquerade balls, Christmas carolling and carnival parades.  Originally, these traditions in the Caribbean were strictly for the white elite and African slaves were forbidden to take part, except as a form of entertainment for the white plantation owners. During these celebrations, the white elite would dress up as black men and women and portrait them in a negative light. The enslaved Africans developed their own celebrations and traditions. In Trinidad, a harvest festival called Canboulay included drumming, singing, dancing and chanting. The tradition of J’ouvert, an early morning street party, also originates from this period. After the emancipation of slaves in 1834 the free Africans took to the streets to celebrate in what is considered to be the first Caribbean Carnival. 

Trinidad Carnival 1888.

Caribbean carnivals have their roots in the West African traditions brought to the Caribbean islands by enslaved people between the 16th and 19th centuries. Similarities to Caribbean carnivals can still be found in West African today. These include the Egungun masquerade, Owi masquerade and the Yoruba Gelede of Nigeria, the Dogon stilt walkers of Mali and the Bwa masquerade of Burkina Faso. Ritual and ceremonial masks are an essential feature of many African cultures and traditional masks are used in many West African countries including Senegal, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Benin.

In the Caribbean, these African traditions were mixed with the traditions brought over by the European plantation owners. In Trinidad the Lent carnival parades and masquerade balls were given an African twist by the Afro-Caribbean population. In St. Kitts and Nevis the tradition of Christmas carolling and Mummers’ plays were adapted in an African style and in Montserrat St. Patrick’s Day celebrations were given an African makeover while in Barbados the harvest festival celebrations were Africanised. Elements of May Day celebrations, Morris Dancers and Hobby Horses can also be found, with African makeovers, in Caribbean traditions.

Morris Dancers and a Hobby Horse in London circa 1620. 

The roots of some traditional carnival characters such as the Moko Jumbie, the Shaggy Bear, Pitchy Patchy, the Gombey and the Cow Band, can be traced back to Africa. Others such as Burrokeet and Clowns are more European in origin. The Pierrot Grenade displays a mix of African and European influences. While similar to masquerade costumes wore by the Dogon and the Bwa of West Africa, the Pierrot Grenade also has similarities to the Border Morris dancers found in West England. The Jab Jab (not to be confused with the Jab Molassie) is another example of this mix. While it shares some elements of the European Jester (a popular character in European carnivals), the Jab Jab also appears to a close relative of the Egungun masquerade of the Yoruba people.

Left: Bwa Dancer. Centre: Pierrot Grenade. Right: Border Morris Dancer. 

The mocking of white Europeans was a common element during Caribbean celebrations and over time new traditions and folklore characters, unique to the Caribbean, were introduced. These include the Baby Dolls, Dame Lorraine, and the Whitefaced Minstrels which all acted as a caricatured reflection of European society. The Jab Molassie dates back to slavery and uses the European’s fear of ‘the black devil’ against them. Other characters are more recent in comparison and take their inspiration from America (Fancy Indians and Sailor Mas) and Mexico (Midnight Robber).

Whitefaced Minstrels, a parody of the blackface Minstrels popular in America and Europe during the 19th Century. 

The music of these Caribbean celebrations is also diverse in its origins. Calypso was developed in Trinidad from traditional Nigerian call and response songs. Calypso was originally called ‘Kaiso’, a name that either comes from the phrase ‘Ka isu’ in the Efik language which means ‘go on!’ or ‘Kaa iso’ which translates from the Ibibio language as ‘continue, go on’.  The Big Drum and Fife music found in St. Kitts and Nevis and other parts of the Caribbean has its origins in the European military bands popular during the slavery period.  Quadrille dancing and the music that accompanies it originated in France in the mid-18th Century and was popular across Europe and its colonies by the 19th century. Tamboo Bamboo evolved after the banning of African-style drums. The banning of the Tamboo Bamboo led to the development of the steel pan drums in the 1940s. Limbo dancing originated in Trinidad in the late 1800s. Claims of its connection to the slave trade and the slave ships are dubious and first appeared in the 1950s after the dance became popular in America. The Conga line of Cuba is also believed to have African origins.

Other Caribbean carnival traditions come from Asia and arrived in the Caribbean along with the indentured servants of India and China, who arrived in the 19th century. They brought their own folk music traditions as well as cultural and religious traditions to the Caribbean. They also developed new traditions such as Hosay. Indian music would play a crucial role in the development of soca music in the late 1960s. Five unique cultures; African, European, Caribbean, American and Asian, are all fundamental in the development of the West Indian Carnival of Trinidad and Tobago, the Christmas Sports of St.Kitts and Nevis, the Crop Over of Barbados and the Junkanoo of Jamaica. Through the migration of Caribbean people to England, during the 1950s and 1960s, those traditions, in turn, became fundamental in the creation of the Leeds West Indian Carnival.

Europe’s First West Indian Carnival: London or Leeds?

There is some debate among carnival historians as to where and when the first West Indian Carnival was held in Europe. Before tackling this question, we must first understand what makes a West Indian Carnival. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a carnival involves “processions, music, dancing, and the use of masquerade”. These four elements of carnival all need to be in play and need to be West Indian in nature for the carnival to be considered a West Indian Carnival. It is also important that a majority, if not all, of the carnival is West Indian in nature. The inclusion of European elements or elements from other cultures alongside the West Indian elements makes the carnival a multicultural event.

Programme for Caribbean Carnival, 1955.

An indoor carnival was held at the Albert Hall in London in July 1955. Claudia Jones held similar events in London and Manchester between 1959 and 1964. These events were carnival in a cabaret style and while they had a strong West Indian presence, Jazz bands and Pop singers were often included on the bill. One thing these indoor carnivals lacked was a procession. The first West Indian masquerade procession in England took place in Nottingham in 1958 but this event lacked music. The Children’s Play Group Street Party organised by Rhaune Laslett in 1965 included a procession of children in fancy dress costumes lead by The Russell Henderson Trio. While the steel band added a West Indian element to the procession, it was never intended to be anything but a multicultural event and other entertainment included a clown and donkey rides. The London Free School Fair held in 1966 was also a multicultural event. Carnivals were held in Notting Hill, under various names, between 1966 and 1972. These events were always multicultural in nature and were never called ‘Notting Hill Carnival’. The People’s Free Carnival held at the end of August 1971 included street theatre and a rock and roll band among the steel bands. It wasn’t until Leslie Palmer’s takeover of the event in 1973 that it became a West Indian Carnival involving steel bands, Jamaican sound systems, and a Trinidadian-style masquerade. While its roots cannot be denied, the 1973 carnival was the first true West Indian Carnival held in Notting Hill.

Peoples free Carnival
Advert for People’s Free Carnival, 1971.

The West Indian Carnival held in Leeds in 1967 included all four elements of carnival. As well as a Calypso King contest, a Carnival Queen show, a last lap dance and a steel band contest, Leeds Carnival included steel bands and Trinidadian –style masquerade in a procession through the streets of Leeds. Organised by British Caribbeans, Leeds West Indian Carnival was the first true West Indian Carnival held in Europe. It led the way for other West Indian Carnivals in the UK including Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and Notting Hill.

How Carnival Came To Britain – A Timeline

Lignum Vitae.

Sam Manning, Slim Henderson and Cyril Monrose’s String Band become the first Calypso artists to have records released in Britain. Among the first releases is ‘Lignum Vitae’, a song about ‘tea’.

Musician Leslie Hutchinson arrives in the UK from  Grenada. He performs cabaret in London. He begins recording in England in the 1930s.

Records by Wilmoth Houdini are first released in Britain. Born in Trinidad in 1895, Wilmoth Houdini moved to New York in 1927 and achieved international fame in the 1930s. He became the best-loved Calypso singer of his era.

Sam Manning.

Sam Manning arrives in England. He stays in England until 1941. He signs to Parlophone in 1935 and becomes one of the first Caribbean artist to record in the UK. During his time in Britain he stars in the musical Brown Sugar and, along with Amy Ashwood Garvey, opens  the Florence Mills Social Club in London.

George Browne arrives in Scotland. He moves to London in 1943 and is signed to Parlophone. Born Edric Browne in Trinidad in 1920, George Browne becomes the first Calypso singer to record in the UK.

George Browne.

George Browne releases the single ‘Christmas Calypso’. It becomes a popular hit in the UK. George Browne later records Calypso music using the name Young Tiger. 

Edric Connor arrives in England and makes his debut on the BBC Radio programme ‘Calling The West Indies’. The programme began in 1939 as a service for West Indian troops to read letters to their families.

The Andrews Sisters release their single ‘Rum And Coca-Cola’. The record is banned by the BBC for it’s use of ‘Coca-Cola’. Despite its ban the song becomes a hit in Britain. 

Lord Kitchener.

Three Calypso singers from Trinidad; Lord Kitchener, Lord Woodbine, and Lord Beginner arrive in England on the SS Windrush. Lord Kitchener performs ‘London is the Place for Me’ for Pathe News.

Lord Woodbine moves from London to Liverpool. He forms the group Lord Woodbine And His Trinidadians and they become one of the first Calypso performers to tour the UK.

Lord Kitchener and Lord Beginner are signed to Melodisc. They begin to record Calypso songs with British themes including ‘ Kitch’s Cricket Calypso’, ‘The Underground Train’, ‘London Is The Place For Me’, and ‘Festival Of Britain’.

Lord Kitchener’s field invasion.

Lord Kitchener leads a field invasion at Lord’s Cricket Ground. The field invasion then turns into an improvisational Carnival march that heads towards Piccadilly.

Boscoe Holder introduces steel pan drums on the BBC television show Bal Creole.

TASPO at the Festival of Britain.

The Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (TASPO)perform at the Festival of Britain, the first steel pan band to perform in the UK. Among its members were Sterling Betancourt and Winston ‘Spree’ Simon. TASPO later tour Britain and France before returning to Trinidad. Sterling Betancourt remains in England.

The BBC air the programme ‘Caribbean Cabaret’ starring TASPO and Lord Kitchener.

Lord Kitchener moves from London to Manchester where he becomes involved with the Pan African movement. That same year he releases the single ‘Africa My Home’.

The Russ Henderson Steel Band is formed in London. It is the first steel pan band formed in the UK. The band’s members are Russ Henderson, Sterling Betancourt, and Mervyn Constantine.

Boscoe Holder And His Caribbean Dancers and The Russ Henderson Steel Band take part in the Royal River Pageant to celebrate the Queen’s Coronation.

Music From Trinidad EP.

Vitadisc release a set of EPs entitled ‘Music From Trinidad’, the first steel pan recordings released in the UK. The EPs include music by The Trinidad Panharmonic Orchestra, Lord Melody and others.

The Mighty Terror releases ‘No Carnival In Britain’ on the Melodisc label. It is just one of many Calypso songs written about life in Britain.

Ian Charles arrives in the UK from Trinidad and settles in Leeds.

The Russell Henderson Calypso Band take part in the Lord Mayor’s Show in London.

Poster for “The First Caribbean Carnival”.

A concert held at the Royal Albert Hall billed as “The First Caribbean Carnival In London” features Lord Kitchener, Young Tiger, The Russell Henderson Steel Pan Band, Edric Connor and Boscoe Holder.

Claudia Jones arrives in England from Trinidad and settles in London. She founds The West Indian Gazette newspaper in 1958.

The BBC air the TV movie A Man From The Sun starring Cy Grant. The movie features Calypso music performed by Cy Grant.


 1956 – 1957
The Calypso Craze takes Britain by storm with music, movies and even lipstick.

Advert for Calypso Beat lipstick.

Winston ‘Spree’ Simon arrives in Liverpool to teach steel pans to the West Indian community. Born in Trinidad in 1930, Winston ‘Spree’ Simon was a pioneer in steel pan. 

In Liverpool, John Lennon, inspired by The Calypso Craze, writes his first song, ‘Calypso Rock’.

Local West Indian musicians hold a Skiffle-Carnival in St Stephen’s Gardens to celebrate the birthday anniversary of Marcus Garvey.

Arthur France arrives in England from Nevis and settles in Leeds.

1957 – 1962
Cy Grant appears on the Tonight show, performing Calypso music, becoming the first black person to appear regularly on British television.

The Caribbeans, lead by Sonny Marks, are formed in Leeds, becoming one of Leeds’ first steel pan bands.

James ‘Woody’ Heyliger organises a West Indian Carnival parade in Nottingham. The parade includes a troupe of Fancy Indians.

Newspaper report on riots in Notting Hill.

Race riots take place in Notting Hill, London, after years of racial unrest. Claudia Jones organises a ‘Caribbean Carnival’ in response to the riots.

Claudia Jones holds a “Caribbean Carnival” in St Pancras Town Hall in Camden, London. This indoor carnival includes steel pan music, limbo dancing and Calypso music performed by The Mighty Terror. 


Caribbean Carnival in St Pancras Town Hall, 1959.

Claudia Jones holds an indoor Carnival at Seymour Hall in London. A second indoor show is held at Kensington Town Hall.  The indoor events include steel pan music and a beauty contest.

In London Emil E. Shalit founds Blue Beat Records, a sublabel of Melodisc. Blue Beat Records releases music from Jamaica and later becomes known for releasing Ska music.

Lord Woodbine travels to Hamburg with The Beatles and performs as their opening act at The Indra Club.

An indoor Carnival cabaret is held at Lyceum theatre in London. This year’s entertainment is provided by Elaine Delmar and the Ray Ellington Orchestra.
Another indoor carnival event is held at Seymour Hall. The event features Mighty Sparrow performing in the UK for the first time.
An indoor carnival event is held at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester.
Lord Kitchener returns to Trinidad to reclaim the title of ‘Calypso King’. He had lived in the UK for 14 years.

Dr. No movie poster.

The James Bond movie Dr.No is released, featuring Byron Lee And The Dragonaires on the soundtrack.

Bernard Cribbins releases ‘Gossip Calypso’. It reaches number 25 in the UK charts.
The Limbo dance craze takes place in Britain and America.
An indoor carnival event is held at Seymour Hall in London. This year’s event includes a Carnival masquerade costume competition.
United Caribbean Association is formed at Arthur France’s bedsit at 15 Grange Avenue in Leeds. During a meeting Arthur France first puts forward the idea of bringing a West Indian Carnival to Leeds.
The last indoor Caribbean Carnival takes place at Seymour Hall, London.
Claudia Jones passes away at her flat in London on Christmas Eve aged 49. In her place, Rhaune Laslett continues to hold Caribbean carnival events in London.
The Caribbean All Steel Band on Opportunity Knocks.

The Steel Pan Band, The Caribbean All Steel Band from Leeds appear on the TV show Opportunity Knocks.

Rhaune Laslett hold street party in Notting Hill, London. During the party, Russell Henderson’s steel band began an improvisational Carnival march.

Muhammad Ali visits the home of Rhaune Laslett in London.
The London Free School hold the London Free School Festival in Notting Hill. The festival includes elements of a West Indian carnival.
The Adventures Steel Band are founded by Selwyn Baptiste in Notting Hill, London. The band later become the Metronomes Steel Orchestra. 
Frankie Davis and Tony Lewis  organise Leeds Caribbean Carnival Fete held at Kitson College. Jimmy James and the Vagabonds perform at the Fete.
The Hollies released their single ‘Carrie Anne’ which features steel pans, the first pop song to feature the instrument. 
Ska legend Prince Buster tours the UK. A live recording, ‘Prince Buster Live On Tour’, is released on the Blue Beat label later that year.
Arthur France and Courtland Carter found The Gay Carnival Steel Band in Leeds. They later become The Boscoe Steel Band.
Vicky Cielto, Britain’s first Carnival Queen.

The first Leeds West Indian Carnival is held. It is the first true West Indian Carnival held in the UK. Among the founding committee members are Arthur France, Calvin Beach, Tony Lewis and Ian Charles. The Carnival includes a Carnival Queen contest won by Vicky Cielto, a steel band contest won by St Christopher Steel Band and a Calypso King contest won by Lord Silkie. TV presenter Clyde Alleyne is Master of Ceremonies at The Carnival Queen Show. 

The first Notting Hill Festival is held in London. The festival features elements of a West Indian Carnival and steel bands including The Adventures Steel Band and The Russ Henderson Trio.
A Carnival parade is held in Bristol as part of the St. Pauls Festival. It includes two floats and a steel band.
A second West Indian Carnival is held in Leeds. Gloria Simpson is the Carnival Queen.
Leeds troupes take part in Notting Hill Festival in London.
The Bedrocks.

Leeds group The Bedrocks are signed to  Columbia. They released their debut single, a cover of  ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ which reaches number 20 in the UK. 

Trojan Records release Volume 1 and 2 of the Reggae compilation LP series ‘Tighten Up’.Volume 3 follows in 1970.
Janet France is the Carnival Queen at the third Leeds West Indian Carnival.

Iola Merchant organises the first West Indian style carnival in Birmingham, the second oldest of it’s kind in the UK. Notting Hill Festival is not yet a specifically Caribbean event.

Birmingham Carnival, 1969.
The fourth Leeds West Indian Carnival is held in Leeds. That years Carnival Queen is Jean Jeffers. Trevor McDonald, radio presenter of the BBC Caribbean Service, is Master of Ceremonies at The Carnival Queen Show at Mecca Ballroom, Leeds.
Notting Hill Festival becomes the People’s Free Carnival.  This year’s Carnival includes steel pan bands and Ginger Johnson’s African drummers.
Leeds West Indian Carnival celebrates it’s fifth year.

A week-long event, The People’s Free Carnival, is held in Notting Hill, London. The event includes Rock and Roll, Steel Bands and Street Theater.

Moss Side Caribbean Carnival, 1972.

West Indian students in Manchester organise the first Moss Side Caribbean Carnival.

Leeds West Indian Carnival is filmed by BBC Television for the first time.
Bob Marley and the Wailers perform at Leeds Polytechnic. The show is recorded and later released on CD in 2004. 
Backstage, Bob Marley meets with Arthur France.
Leslie Palmer takes over Notting Hill Carnival in London. He runs the Carnival until 1975. During that time he introduces more steel bands, other live acts and sound systems to Notting Hill Carnival, making it a more specifically Caribbean event.
1972 – 1977
Caribbean Carnivals are founded across the UK. Carnivals begin appearing in Manchester (1972), Preston (1974), Derby (1975), Luton (1976), and Reading (1977).
Notting Hill Carnival ends in a riot. The riot begins after years of racial tensions between police and residents of Notting Hill. Over 160 people, police officers and residents, are injured.
Leeds West Indian Carnival celebrates it’s 10th year. That year’s Carnival Queen is Patricia Wilkes.

Leeds West Indian Carnival is featured on the BBC television programme Countdown to the Festival.

Bob Marley attends the Notting Hill Carnival in London.

The first Panorama steel pan contest is held in the UK. It is held at Emslie Horniman’s Pleasance park in Notting Hill, London. A Panorama contest had been held in Trinidad since 1963.