July is festival month in Huddersfield, and the biggest and best attraction is the Huddersfield Caribbean carnival.
There are two days to the Carnival; the first night seems to be an excuse for local people to get drunk and throw paint and powder over each other, as the J'ouvert requires. To be honest, there is a little too much rum and testosterone on the streets in the early hours of the morning for my liking, and it’s an event I always miss.
The following day is the more user friendly street parade and party. 2012 saw the 28th street procession, and in time honoured tradition it finally arrived in the town centre over an hour late. Around 30,000 people turn up for the Carnival so the more popular spots in the centre of town are three or four deep.
I usually find a place near the side of the George Hotel on the way into Huddersfield as it seems to be rather quieter here, and when the party event is held in Huddersfield (as it was this year because the park was waterlogged) it's not too far from the main stage in front of the train station and the lines of Caribbean food stalls alongside. I always struggle to decide on what to eat; it’s usually jerk chicken with rice and peas, or goat curry. At around £5-£6 a dish it’s a good way to get the main meal of the day.
This year there was about 20 floats; to open a wonderful steel band, and then a series of floats from the different Caribbean Island Associations. The floats usually comprise of a guy spinning records and rapping with the biggest sound system they can beg steal or borrow on board. Behind are the dancers in their lovingly crafted outfits. This year's general theme was the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee which meant a lot of red white and blue on show.
I personally love the high spirits and fun of the carnival and the dancers will usually try to get the crowd to join in and dance with their crew for a little while. It's also one of those all too rare occasions where the litter bins fill up with rum bottles and the heady smell of cannabis wafts over the town. While the high spirits can end up getting a little nasty after a few hours, Huddersfield Carnival is one of my "must do" events for the afternoon.