If you didn’t go to the Gloucester Tall Ships festival last year you missed out on a treat. It was an excellent event which everyone seemed to enjoy enormously, and if that wasn’t enough a new report suggests it brought £1.8 million into Gloucester’s economy. Great news indeed and a poke in the eye to all of the knee-jerk moaners and nay-sayers who complain about everything that anyone tries to do to make Gloucester a better place.
So, it seems assured that we will have another Tall Ship Festival in 2013. I think that hosting the festival just every other year is the right decision – it must be a heck of a thing to organise, and by not having it every year it doesn’t get stale – but what do we do this year to build on this success?
Well, I think we should look to rejuvenate the carnival. No, don’t laugh, bare with me.
I know that in recent years the carnival has dwindled to a shadow of its former self, but there are still a few enthusiastic participants and if just a fraction of the effort and resources that went into the Tall Ship Festival was expended on it surely it could be great again.
One thing that struck me last year was that the carnival took place on the opening weekend of the Gloucester Rhythm and Blues Festival. This is an excellent event run every year by some of the city’s best pubs. So, I got to thinking, what would happen if we combine the two?
Give the carnival a broad ‘music’ theme, encouraging people to join in dressed as anything from Elvis to the latest pop starlets. What few floats there are at the moment tend to have music blasting out anyway, whether it’s the ‘Fever’ float complete with DJ, or the singing of the excellent and enthusiastic gospel church.
Take that one step further: get the pubs involved – great publicity for them, especially if they are part of the Blues Festival – and maybe even rope in some of the local acts. Get some corporate involvement from some of the city’s biggest stores – the Bon Marche used to be renowned for their floats so why not try to get Debenhams, M&S, Tesco, etc involved. If they don’t want to put up a float, at least they could sponsor participation by schools or community groups.
Cheltenham has the festival scene tied up for jazz and classical music – let’s put Gloucester on the map for rock and blues and make it a real mardi-gras of an event, injecting some much needed life into the city centre.
Who knows, maybe we could even get the main carnival to be bigger than the ever-growing rag-tag tail of god botherers.