Arts & Culture

The Cowley Road Carnival is the biggest, most exciting and free festival day in the calendar for Oxfordshire residents.

What is perhaps less well-known is that the event is organized by Cowley Road Works, and supports a range of other year-round events and activities. These are developed to bring the diverse community together in a variety of ways including sporting events, such as the Bar Aroma Carnival Cup International Football Tournament held on Sunday 31 May, creative workshops for schools, the Rhythm Craft music based community cohesion project, a carpentry group who are making the signs for this year’s Carnival, and other arts and musical activities.

In recognition of this work, Cowley Road Works was announced as winner of the 2015 Bybox Best Community Project award at the OCVA Charity & Volunteer awards, and has been shortlisted for The Oxford Times Charity and Community Award at this year’s Oxford Business Awards.

Organised by a small team and group of dedicated trustees, the Carnival relies on volunteer support and help, as well as free performances from dancers, artists and musicians. However, the charity’s costs for its year’s work, the majority of which has to be spent on the Carnival event, is around £120,000, including for essentials such as event management, road closures and traffic diversion, security, first aid cover, toilets and street cleaning. To date, just over £70,000 has been already raised.

The Carnival receives £30,000 core funding from Oxford City Council, and other sponsors including Oxford Brookes University, the University of Oxford Community Fund, the Patsy Wood Trust, and others including some local businesses, but still needs to secure the finance required to ensure that Carnival can be kept on the road for years to come.

Which is why that this year carnival-goers are being urged to make a donation for their afternoon’s free entertainment. 

Launching the ‘Give a Quid for Carnival’ campaign, Danielle Batigelli, Executive Director of Cowley Road Works, said: “Carnival is a free day out for the community, and we hope that it always will be. We want everyone to come down to the Cowley Road and have a fabulous day, and we work hard to ensure that there is something to appeal to everyone, from toddlers to octogenarians, and that it will be a safe event for the public.

But, to ensure that we can finance Carnival every year, as well as all of our outreach events and activities in the community, we want to encourage you to donate a quid for your afternoon’s entertainment and the ripple effect from it. Or more if you can afford it. If every one of the 45,000 people who comes to Carnival gives just £1 that would go a long way towards covering costs. It is the best value you are going to get all year!”

The ‚ÄòQuid for Carnival‚Äô logo was designed by Joe and Sean Humphries at Bounce Design on Magdalen Road. Joe said: ‚ÄúWe are both: ‚ÄúReally excited to be supporting the carnival this year, it‚Äôs a great community event and an awesome day.”

The Cowley Road Works team launch Quid for Carnival. Danielle Battigelli centre with Sarah Airey, Sean and Joe Humphries (Bounce Design), Katie Herring and Heather Dunmore.

Donations can be made through the carnival website at and there will be collecting tins out on the Day. Some tins will also be out before Carnival - pop into The Truck Store on Cowley Road to give your Quid for Carnival.  You can also support carnival at one of the fundraising events, by organizing or hosting one of your own, or by becoming a sponsor. For further information please email or

This year’s programme, which starts at noon on 5 July and until 5pm, will see hundreds of performers on the street and adjacent areas. Crowds of over 45,000 are expected to come and enjoy an afternoon of free entertainment which includes Balloon Ascents and Ran Kan Kan on the Manzil Gardens stage, the chance to join in the ‘Haka’ ritual dance from New Zealand, Dr Longitude’s mysterious and magical emporium, a chill out area as the beach comes to the Cowley Road at ‘Cowleyfornia’, and other zoned areas for the family and body & soul.

For information on the Carnival, please see Follow on Facebook or Twitter @cowleycarnival #cowleyroadcarnival