New Addington People’s Day Carnival

By - Tuesday 30th July, 2013

Blessed with great weather, the end of last month saw the New Addington People’s Day Carnival held in Milne Park. Hundreds of residents from New Addington came out to enjoy the two-day festivities

The carnival had been going since the 1950s but was suspended in 2003. It took place over the May bank holiday weekend, kicking off with a crowning of Miss New Addington at the ACA with a Friday night disco. Lasting three days, many residents have fond memories of the carnival. I still remember walking to the end of my road to cheer as the floats went past waving to the crowds who would line up along the roads.

It’s brilliant to see the return of the carnival, but it has been a struggle. A group of residents took it upon themselves to bring the traditional carnival back – Kirsty Pearce was one of them and now organises the weekend activities along with a committee of twenty volunteers that she describes as “a bit of a motley crew” which is quickly echoed by Marion Burchell who is on the carnival committee.

The renewed carnival started again in 2010 with a small budget and a lot of determination. In the first year they brought it together with People’s Day which lasted a few hours on a Saturday afternoon to pool resources and they used the same tactics this year.

“It was a huge learning curve and it was very small,” says Kirsty as she reminisces about that first year. “There were people saying negative comments like ‘it’s not like it used to be’ but I’d say you need to pitch in to improve it. We can do it; you just need to put in the effort. There are 22,000 residents and if everyone contributed a pound the carnival would pay for itself. It’s not about making money, but we need to fundraise for the carnival. If we start making profit that would be great and we could give it to charity.”

Now in its third year under the new committee, this year’s carnival was the biggest yet with a variety of stalls, funfair rides, a bouncy castle, and food from all over the world. There was even live wrestling, which captivated many young boys who absolutely loved the drama, more so than me as I watched through my fingers over my eyes.

Families lined up along the road in anticipation of the floats that made their journey from Vulcan Way along King Henry’s Drive towards the park to join the rest of the carnival. Cheering as they went, it was a brilliant weekend, full of families enjoying themselves.

“It has been a struggle with schools and businesses. Some are better than others, Rowdown [Primary School] and Fairchildes [Primary School] are very good at being involved. But we’re slowly getting there as we are becoming more established. It takes a lot of hard work and cooperation,” says Kirsty who was relieved that the two days went without a hitch. “There were no catastrophes but we did have a lady go into labour and had to call the ambulance.”

Most of the members on the committee joined through word of mouth and they are always open to more people who want to help. “Any help is welcome; it’s the small things that matter. We had an elderly gentleman donate a silver cup, he’s nearly blind so it took him a lot of time to find it and clean it. Little things like that mean a lot. It didn’t get given out this year but we have it ready for next.” They’ve already begun planning for the next year and have the dates arranged. “The acts have to be booked early, but that’s difficult at the beginning of the year because we don’t know if we will be able to pay them.”

This is an event that is run entirely through the good will and effort of those residents who donate the time and expertise and it provides free entertainment for a whole community. Next year it can be even better with more help.

If you’re interested in helping or would like to give feedback on this year’s carnival contact . Alternatively drop in to the Octagon near New Addington tram stop on a Tuesday or Friday as I did. Go on, they are absolutely lovely!


Rajdeep Sandhu has been a lifelong resident in New Addington, apart from when she studied journalism in central London. Now she works in book publishing and when she isn't working, can be found reading, writing or tweeting. Most of all she is excited about how New Addington will benefit from the changes in Croydon.

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