St. Paul’s Carnival

Girl in Bristol enjoys her first time at St. Paul’s Carnival on the 5th July 2014

If I’m honest St. Paul’s, in retrospect, can only be described as a blur.
A bright-coloured, frenzied, intoxicated blur.

Nonetheless, I shall do my best to rack my brains and use the few drunken photos I have to try and piece together the incredible madness that took place at St. Paul’s on the 5th July 2014.


St. Paul’s is probably one of the best free festival-like experiences you’ll have the joy of being a part of. Come rain or shine (though thankfully for the last two years I’ve been it’s been the latter), the people of Bristol all flock in their masses with bottles in hand and face-paint on to get stuck into the chaos that ensues. Jerk chicken, rice ‘n’ beans and various types of stew is sold on every corner and every type of music is played from sound systems which are up so high the ground shakes. Primarily we found reggae and dub’d pop music were the favourites, but we did come across some mainstream R&B being played in a cul-de-sac we stumbled into.

Of course, in the early afternoon, the event was a more family-affair with samba drums and dancers a’plenty strolling about to begin the festivities. But in the evening, ah that is when the people of Bristol really did come out to play.

10352345_10152547325489860_2540091124836467419_nAfter perusing the streets for some form of vegetarian food (thank God for the small pop-up garden BBQ which sold veggie burgers!), we didn’t stay at many of the stages for very long. The place was already rammed by the time we got there in the early afternoon and we were on a mission to join our comrades at the infamous Red Bull stage which was situated in St. Paul’s park. Tragically though, it appeared half of Bristol had the exact same idea for when we went back at 2pm, we found over the past hour the entire entrance had grown to be surrounded by an extensive queue which had wound back towards Portland Square.

One and a half hours later following an incredibly courageous teen girl’s efforts to try and keep order from within the queue as many sought to push their way through (oh the comical drama), we made it in with just enough of our sanity intact to go and join the others on the steps opposite the stage right in the heart of the rave. There were people scaling the walls in Spiderman outfits, there were guys swinging from supposedly closed off park apparatus, there were girls handing us out Dunhill Gold cigarettes when all we had asked for was a lighter … it was a jolly good night. There were also some girls who came up on stage later into the evening with nought but a gold bikini on which the fellas were pleased about. But what pleased me most was that they were REAL women, with curves and actual cellulite! They were jiving to the music with all their lumps and bumps exposed and the rest of us girls were happy to follow suit. Hooray for real women who are appreciated in all their forms.

Sadly after our seven hour rave, the night closed at the Red Bull at 9pm much to the dismay of the crowd who were still desperate to continue. We headed straight for Lakota after but by then the place was packed so we settled for a good ol’ houseparty instead to round off the day’s events and so ended our time at St. Paul’s Carnival.

The day started with a bottle of gin (and a touch of tonic) but it ended with a bunch of new-found friends, a terrible hangover and some ruddy good memories – as hazy as some of them are.

St. Paul’s has certainly set a president for the upcoming festivals which are to follow and if they’re half as good as last weekend, we’re in for a real treat this summer.


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