Govanhill Carnival Returns for the Fifth Annual International Festival

In 2017 and handful of people, myself included, planned to mark the 40th anniversary of the historic Rock Against Racism movement with a reggae concert in Queens Park on Glasgow’s Southside. The plan expanded a bit and the concert went ahead with a small programme of events around it including the first Carnival, taking to the streets to celebrate Govanhill’s unique diversity and culture. The Festival has grown and changed over the years to become two weeks of art heritage and culture but the Carnival became the focal point, a bright, noisy and colourful display of what Govanhill is all about. Last year the COVID pandemic meant it had to be cancelled but, thankfully, it’s back.

The parade moves, with pipe bands, drummers, costumes and a smiling celebration of this wonderful and unique community through the streets of the Southside, starting in Govanhill Park and ending at the historic Queens Park Arena where local MSP and First Minster Nicola Sturgeon has made it her annual duty to declare the carnival open.

General manager of the festival organisers Govanhill Baths Community Trust, Fatima Uygun, sees the parade as the most important part of the two week long festival:
“It’s more than just a parade or march. It’s a statement, a colourful display of unity, pride, joy and an anti-racist celebration of the contribution immigrants have made to out community. We have people from more than 60 nations, speaking over 50 languages within this square mile and we want people to see, and hear that.”

The Festival itself has over 50 events with mini “festivals within the festival”, a street music festival, a children’s festival, book festival and film festival. There is also history events, walks and talks about the history and heritage of Govanhill, exhibitions and much more.

The Film Festival, delivered by Glasgow Artists Moving Image Studio (Gamis) has an amazing array of films from shorts to features, from Bollywood to Powell and Pressberger, taking place in Queens Park Arena and at the Batson Street Laboratory stationed outside of the historic former Govanhill Picture House.

Returning for a second year is Simon Murphy‘s ongoing Govanhill project. Murphy has been photographing Govanhills residents for year’s and strikes up a personal relationship with his subjects that comes through in the pictures. Streetlevel Photoworks took his pictures out of galleries on to the streets and windows of the local community and are doing the same again this year, His pictures are a trail around the area.

“Beldina” from Simon Murphy’s Govanhill

Covid restrictions last summer forced the music events outdoors, to socially distanced venues on the streets of the Southside for the first Street Music Festival, it was such a success that it will be now be the norm for the Festival, music springing up on corners, in parks, on stoops and outside cafes. This year there will be two focussed stages running alongside the pop-up festival on the final day of the festival, Sunday 15 August. Love Music Hate Racism stage features the roaring anti-fascist band The Kidney Flowers, soulful French-Cameroonian Singer-Songwriter Djana Gabrielle and more. The Romano Lav stage, working with Ando Glaso will showcase the colourful Roma music heritage alive amongst Govanhill’s Romanian, Czech and Slovak Roma communities. These traditions and the people keeping them alive are often hidden from the public eye.

You can find full details of all the free and ticketed events on the link below.

Govanhill International Festival


Comments (5)

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  1. Angus McKay says:

    Govanhill was destroyed by a unique diversity and culture. The Festival is a joke, an embarrassing insult to throw at the good people of Glasgow. And there she sits, laughing, the First Minister overseer of arguably the worst area, her constituency, in all of the UK. Shame.

    1. Dougie says:

      Despite this disgusting and implicitly racist insinuation, I for one will happily be there. And am glad that we have a First Minister who is supportive of this happy celebration.

      1. Angus McKay says:

        “Despite this disgusting and implicitly racist insinuation,”

        Yes, your reply is most disgusting, as usual, put out alongside the racist card.

    2. What a disgraceful remark.

  2. Alasdair Macdonald says:

    I wish you every success with the resumption of this venture. Such things have the effect of increasing the general happiness and also facilitate ‘neebors meet neebors’ (drouthy or otherwise) in congenial circumstances. It permits local people to display their talents in a sympathetic setting so that people can ‘get a guid conceit o themsels’.

    Of course, the baleful Scottish media will probably ignore this or seek out incidents of bad behaviour and use vox pops to disseminate discriminatory messages against the various ethnic groups, sexualities, social classes. Fortunately for some time now, with events like this and on sites like this a substantial proportion of the Scottish population has transcended this bile.

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