Bronte Shande

Cowley Road Carnival kicks off on Sunday, broadcast online across four ‘stages’ from 11am with an eclectic mix of live music, DJ sets, dance, performances, workshops and fun activities.

Clare O’Hara, director of Cowley Road Works said: “Everyone has been amazing. We are really thrilled that it has all come together for what will be a uniquely different Carnival Day on Sunday. We have a real mix this year, with some big names like Little Brother Eli and Quartermelon, alongside new local acts like Sarah Derrick and Carnival favourites Ran Kan Kan, AfroFusion and Count Skylarkin’.  

So what can you expect? The Playroom Stage is a Zoom performance and activity area for dance, poetry, workshops, AfroFusion and hula hooping! On the Discovery Zone there are more fun activities to get involved with, opt for the Carnival at Home site or head for The Road stage

Autumn Neagle is managing the line-up of performers at the Virtual Chill Out Zone and has made a film of bands pre-recording their sets from home – The Longest Day – A Lockdown Odyssey will be available to watch (as a film) on Sunday from 11am

Mainly recorded over the summer solstice, it features a colourful and talented array of friends, collaborators and past carnival performers, to raise funds and awareness for Mind, Restore and Cowley Road

It features beddJamie Hyatt, poet Owen Collins, Wednesday’s Wolves, Ags Connolly, Lisa Fitzgibbon, Scott Gordon, Jali Fily Cissokho, Nick Cope,  Max Blansjaar, Cigani Knees Up, Julian Wagstaff (The Jerichos), Jonny Payne, Bronte Shande, Roguey Roads, Premium Leisure’s Chris Barker, Piney Gir, Alex Train from Quartermelon, The Deadbeat Apostles, The Epstein and Loz, (Ride)

Piney Gir

Other bands to look out for include:

Indie rockers Quartermelon with their signature surf-rock style upbeat contemporary pop music which will scream summer – and bring the sunshine to lockdown Carnival! 

Little Brother Eli, an energetic local 4-piece combining rock, disco and electro sounds with hip-hop rhythms are playing, as well as The Jerichos, Waterfahl, Danny Mellin, Doctor Steevo. Newcomer Sarah Derrick will be performing as well as established Carnival favourites Horns of Plenty and Ran Kan Kan

Little Brother Eli

Josh Rigal from Little Brother Eli said: “We’re super excited to be involved in the Carnival this year – It’s our first ever virtual festival and we’re stoked to be able to bring our fans some live music at a time when live music is almost impossible.” 

Danny Mellin said: “It’s really great to be invited to play a set for Cowley Road Carnival after being unable to play regular gigs for so long. It’s such a good idea for the community and to help raise money for mental health charities. It’s an absolute pleasure to be involved.”

There will be more music from Lost Darren, Leon P Fields, Patrick Griffin, Roguey Roads as well as dance from Pos Decadent Dance Hall and Ethno England Brazilian Workshop,  all live on the Carnival Music Stage via Zoom (the link will be published on the website

Singer songwriter Patrick Griffin will be performing his beautiful lyrical songs with catchy melodies. He said: “This is my first time being involved as a performer with the Cowley Rd Carnival, it’s a shame it isn’t under the usual format but it’s great it has the support and team behind it so it can still go ahead virtually. Having attended in previous years, it is such a vibrant, diverse and eclectic event with a fantastic energy about it which is so well supported in the community, so I appreciate the opportunity to be able to contribute to that.”

Carnival Day wouldn’t be complete without some really BIG DJ sets and, of course, Count Skylarkin’ who will be closing the DJs Live Mixcloud stage from 4pm. 

Skylarkin’ said: “Everything has changed this year. We’ve never needed to feel connected by music, art, and community so much – and recent happenings such as Lockdown Festival have proved that this can be achieved in a way that generates genuine excitement and interaction. I’ve played every single Carnival since the first in 2001, so I’m not going to stop now. I’ll be doing my best to bring the vibes and possibly roadblock my back garden. Bring your airhorns and blow your whistles.”

Cheeky DJ representing Good Riddims will get the day off to a kicking start at 11 am, followed by DJs Tiger Mendoza and Yaya who will be smashing their trademark “Wheedle Scratch” from their respective homes – Tiger Mendoza beats and instruments and Yaya with the cuts. Although they have both been streaming DJ sets live during the lock down this will the first time that they have done anything like this together.

Completing the Live DJ line up are DJ Binge, DJ Ova Proof and DJ G’s Soulful House. DJ G said: “I have been involved with Carnival since before the beginning. and am glad to be a DJ on the line up.  

“Coming home means a lot to me, getting together with the community, my family and friends. I do a lot of work internationally, so this is always the cherry on the top of the cake for the year and why I love doing the Carnival so much. Having grown up in Cowley, it’s part of who I am and the multi-racial aspect of Carnival.


Playing music has the power to touch people’s hearts and soul to make them feel good.”

Autumn must be delighted with the schedule then? “Today’s line up would normally be set in the sunshine and flower-filled oasis of Restore’s garden stage, but even so, even though no year has been so unusual or challenging as 2020, we’ve created something really special. A huge thank you to the creativity and time given by the performers.”

Organisers are asking for donations, to be split between three Cowley Road charities: Oxfordshire Mind, Restore and Cowley Road Works, with donate buttons on the website or go straight to the fundraiser at JustGiving. “

Clare O’Hara, director of Cowley Road Works, the charity which organises the annual Carnival says: “We are totally thrilled to be going ahead with Virtual Carnival Day Live on 5 July. We have an amazing line up of musicians, dancers, performers, and activities for you to watch – and most importantly – to join in with!

Tune in via the Virtual Carnival Live page of the website where you will find out how to watch and get involved.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here