Plans for Carnival under way as roadmap offers hope of live event

Barking and Dagenham Carnival 2019

The last live Barking and Dagenham Carnival was in 2019, with this one of many pictures captured from that day. - Credit: UKON Careers C.I.C

Plans for this year's Barking and Dagenham Carnival are already under way, with the roadmap out of lockdown offering hope of a live event. 

Ros Alexander from UKON Careers - which has been running the event since 2015 - told the Post that all options are on the table: "We are planning the event in July as if it’s going to be live, but also are prepared in case this changes. Last year we didn’t have a back-up plan and it was hard going."

While the 2020 event was forced online due to the pandemic, UKON managed to maintain its run of bringing this celebration to the borough every year.

Barking and Dagenham Carnival event in July

Last year's Carnival was the first to go online, with the sudden change of circumstances forcing UKON Careers to adapt very quickly. - Credit: UKON Careers C.I.C

Ros explains what UKON Careers aims to bring to the community: "We are raising an understanding of carnival, and to dispel the negative ideas people have about it. We want to support community cohesion, positive mental health and social harmony."

It does this through running workshops - including those in steel pan, mask making and creative thinking - designed to educate people on the celebration. 

Anyone who participates in the pre-event workshops gets to perform in the carnival event, which seeks to "create great energy in Barking and Dagenham”. 

Barking and Dagenham carnival event in July

Ros Alexander says UKON Careers aims to 'support community cohesion, positive mental health and social harmony' through running the annual Carnival celebration. - Credit: UKON Careers C.I.C

In this vein UKON is offering volunteering opportunities "for anyone who wants to be involved", with roles in security, production management, and sound engineering among those available.

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Over the past few years, the event has helped grow an understanding of this celebration's history and origins. Ros and her colleagues find joy in the teaching, and in "showing our communities that they all have heritage in Carnival".

Going virtual was a challenge as the circumstances forced UKON to build its first website. Despite slight teething problems, the move has ultimately allowed the message of Carnival to spread "beyond Barking and Dagenham”.

Barking and Dagenham Carnival event in July

UKON Careers will run a series of workshops ahead of this year's Carnival, with all those who participate invited to perform at the July event. - Credit: UKON Careers C.I.C

Buoyed by an ever-growing popularity, plans continue at pace. Whether live or online, UKON wants this year's offering to demonstrate one crucial thing: “This event is for everyone. That will always be our foundation.” 

To get involved with a workshop, please get in touch before May 17. To enquire about work experience, please do so by April. For further information, email