From food to activism: enjoy and support black culture in Leeds while you wait for next Carnival to come round

When you live in Leeds, chances are you spent your August Bank Holiday at one of two events – Leeds Fest, or The Annual West Indian Carnival. While you’ll have heard plenty about the former, the latter is undoubtedly more fun – an inclusive party starting off in Potternewton Park, bringing together the community and embracing multiculturalism.

Whether you attended the 50th anniversary parade or not, there has never been a more poignant time to champion diversity. No matter your race, ethnicity or heritage, Leeds Carnival provides a day of unity and colourful celebration. Black culture has a lot more to offer Leeds than one weekend a year, though. Here are five other ways that you can help and benefit from black culture to thrive in our city all year round.

Whether you attended the 50th anniversary parade or not, there has never been a more poignant time to champion diversity.

Visit Leeds Carnival 50 - Tetley Exhibition

Running right through until October, the official Carnival exhibition at The Tetley takes you behind the scenes to show how much work, skill, and passion goes into making it such a success. Curated by esteemed historian Sonya Dyer, take a look around various costumes, photos and films to track the journey of the event from its humble beginnings as a project by first-generation immigrant students right through the huge parade it is now.

The exhibition is presented in conjunction with ‘Carnival Chronicles’, a specially commissioned play that details the carnival’s history, it’s an important look at the people that raise Leeds’ Caribbean culture to the fore.

50 Years of Leeds West Indian Carnival, The Tetley, Saturday 12 August - Sunday 29 October. More Info

Get involved in Black History Month

Taking place each October, Black History Month is the perfect opportunity to dig a little deeper into the struggles and triumphs of West Indian and Caribbean families in the UK. Specific announcements for Leeds 2017’s offering are still in the works, but based on last year’s contributions you can expect short films, supper clubs, musical performances from up and coming black artists (2016 featured the likes of Nao and Jorja Smith), debates, discussions and club nights…the list is pretty much endless. 

Stay tuned to for more.

#sianabangura at an evening of black excellence #blackhistorymonth!
A post shared by MonifaTheBus (@monifathebus) on

Eat at independent Caribbean restaurants

While Turtle Bay might be a great night out, its impression of Jamaican is about as convincing as Jesy from Little Mix's. Do your tastebuds a favour and seek out some indie alternatives – Island Grill in Woodhouse offer a great takeaway goat curry, Ryan's Kitchen on Kirkstall road cooks a mean jerk, while Maureen’s in Chapeltown is a Leeds institution, serving up plantain, brown stew and fried dumplings the way Auntie intended it. Put your hard-earned cash into the pockets of the people who really live this cuisine – it’s well worth the visit.

Island Grill, 33 Blackman Lane, LS7 1LW. Maureen's, 105 Roundhay Road, LS8 5AJ. Ryan's Kitchen, 329 Kirkstall Road, LS4 2HD

Stew Chicken, veg and Rice n peas @ Maureens - 🇰🇳🇯🇲 #bellyfull Kickstarter Live now! LINK in bio
A post shared by Belly Full (@belly.full) on

Support black-owned business and academia

There are plenty of great initiatives in Leeds to help promote record-keeping and education within the black community. Leeds Beckett are at the forefront, leading research into carnival culture and expressions of ethnicity as well as putting on events for the general public. For those looking to read further, Peepal Tree Press is a Leeds-owned publishing house, home to some of the best in Caribbean and Black British fiction, poetry, literary criticism, memoirs and historical studies.

If you’re more of a glossy, coffee-table reader, take a trip down to Village or Colours May Vary – both stores stock an array of inclusive fashion and lifestyle magazines such as Brownbook, Riposte, Girls Like Us and Brick that accurately represent diversity and have black writers and editors at their helm to set a more progressive agenda.

Play your part in campaigning for BME rights

We’ve come a long way in achieving a certain level of inclusivity for ethnic minorities, but if recent world events have taught us anything, there’s still a long way to go. Whatever your personal background, you have a voice to speak out against injustice – Doing Good Leeds offers an array of options to work with and for BME groups in Leeds, whether that be joining rallies, volunteering with marginalised youth or signing petitions for governmental legislation. 

More information can be found at

#blacklivesmatter #blacklivesmatterleeds #nojusticenopeace #changeforthebetter #itstopstoday
A post shared by Ashley Karrell (@ashleykarrell) on