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My experience participating in Night of Festivals Carnival, Lincoln

The Day Before - Friday 13th June 2015

Giant Bird Costume

2 weeks prior, I had taken part in a little rehearsa​​l, yet I still felt I had no clue as to what was really in store for me! Lucky for me (and I guess everyone else) I'm a really outgoing person with a can-do attitude, so no matter what was to come, I was ready to make the most and make sure me, and everyone around me, had fun!

The Big Carnival Day - Saturday 14th June 2015 After a yummy full English breakfast, we all headed to the Drill Hall where all the costumes were on display. They looked awesome and very well put together. Pigs, dogs, cows and frogs heads were all lined up and the lovely Andrea and Zoe were ready to start applying people's face paint.

My first outing was due to begin at 11am and I was to be a pig! I wore an apple-patterned top and shorts and a giant pig head. Lining up outside the Drill Hall ready to go, all we needed now was the music. As soon as the band started to play, everyone moved to the beat and marched down the street.

Despite the rather miserable rain, it didn’t take long for us to draw people’s attention, as they gathered around. Children and adults alike were amused and moved along to the beat.

2-3 smaller children were a little apprehensive, and hid their faces away, but following a friendly wave and a humorous wiggle, they realised we were harmless. Then they smiled, waved back and offered ‘high-fives’. As we marched and danced around City Square, some people began to join in with us and dance around. As we passed Burger King, (which sold food such as bacon), we tapped on the windows and shook our fingers at the customers. They laughed and waved back! There was also a picture of bacon outside of M&S, which I stood in front of shaking my head. People saw and laughed, which in turn made me laugh inside the pig head. Soon after, we had to return to the Drill Hall, so the next set of performers could take their turn. Back in the hall I finally removed the giant pig head to reveal my hair was soaking wet, not from the rain, but from sweat! I was boiling, but feeling very energised and happy with our performance! Following a break, which consisted of drinking lots water and resting up, I was ready to change and go back out again.

Pig Costume

Next I was to be a Golden Bird! I had my face painted in beautiful detail by Andrea the makeup artist, with different gold and green colours. The bird was part costume, part puppet. I was able to manipulate its head using two sticks held under my arms. I had a little practise by pecking unsuspecting co-workers, Tom included, which was so much fun! Another golden bird was a little 12 year old, who was even more excited than me! Before we left the hall she was shooting about with more energy than a hamster running like crazy in its wheel! Then it was time to head out again. Joining us this time was Anita with the little skeleton puppet and Andy in the huge skeleton puppet which looked very impressive! With the band in tow, we danced our way down the High Street entertaining passersby, causing them to stop, watch and sometimes join in! My little golden bird friend decided it would be amusing to go into River Island, however, seeing as from the tip of the back tail to the bird’s head was about 3 metres long, she got stuck in between the metal detectors! So funny! One of the stewards Helen had to go and rescue her, saying “You shouldn’t go into shops”. That didn’t stop her from poking the bird’s head into various shops including McDonalds and Waterstone’s.

As we approached City Square again, we could see a group of dramatists performing a play about King John. We decided to join in, which was really funny! On our arrival some declared “Oh look it’s the royal emus!” At this point my Golden Bird friend decided it would be a good idea to chase the king around! The audience found it hilarious! There was no stopping her! One of the actors declared “Who put the child in the ostrich?!” I was beginning to wonder the same thing. After finally losing interest, the poor King was left alone to recover and continue the play. Then Oli became the subject of her attention, she pecked him in the neck continually, whilst he tried to persuade her to stop. Next we headed back to the Drill Hall for rest, water and crisps.

As the sun went down, we now dressed in frog costumes, which eyes lit up impressively. The large skeleton also contained a UV light, so that it would shine brightly in the darkness. As night fell, the rain had finally stopped and people were out drinking and found it even funnier to join in with us.

7pm meant yummy pizza time. Later, around 9:15pm, it was time for our final performance of the day! The entire band and every performer went out together this time, including the giant pig, skeletons, red birds, harlequins, frogs, pigs, little and giant skeleton puppets and I, along with the Mandinga founder Charles, went out as golden birds (my favourite costume). The streets were really busy now and so many people and children joined in with our fun. We made our way to Brayford Pool, where we danced along the waterfront wharf. We pulled people out of the audience and started a conga line. Everybody was smiling and clapping along. What a wild fun night! It will be one I will always remember! Returning to the Drill Hall for the final time that day, I was sweaty and exhausted, but buzzing with joy! It wasn’t long before I collapsed into bed; an early night was a must, seeing as we were out again tomorrow.

The Small Carnival Day – Sunday 15th June 2015 Waking up in the morning was easy, getting out of bed was another matter! My legs were so stiff! Naively, I hadn’t done any stretching yesterday until after the long day, which was not the best idea, as my legs were now punishing me. Still, on with the show! I wore the same cool costumes as before. In comparison to Saturday, the atmosphere was much more chilled, the beats were less frantic and because the rain had finally ceased completely, the public lingered for longer. The last performance was definitely the highlight of the day again, as everyone goes out together and gives it their all for that last final time. Then it was time to go back to the hotel for a shower and a nice cup of tea. I was well and truly shattered! That’s my exercise for the 2015 sorted!

Carnival Celebrations in Lincoln (including King John!)

Magna Carta Celebrations – Monday 16th June 2015 Seeing as I had not done warm-up stretches Saturday and still not enough Sunday, I hobbled down to breakfast. Lesson learnt: you’re never too old to do school PE exercises! I will definitely keep this in mind for next time. It felt great to be back in my own clothes too, I’d forgotten what normal Eve dressed like!

10am: back to the Drill Hall to collect King John, the massive puppet that is! A group of us carried him to the City Square. We received quite a few odd looks from the public unsurprisingly! Once Mark our puppeteer arrived we helped him into the King John. At around 4 meters high, he towered above us all! Around that time children from St Francis Special School and Lincoln Castle Academy joined us. Some of them carried a 10 meter long scroll which had been beautifully decorated by the children exploring the ideas of freedom and democracy. The others marched along side us in the procession, which made its way to the High Street. I followed closely with a camera capturing today’s events via photos and footage. Lots of other people were taking photos and there were other camera crews there to. I had to fight them for the best spots! A few would copy me too, which was even more annoying! I would kneel on the floor to get an upwards angle (which was also out of everyone’s way) the other camera operators saw me and thought “good idea” and then moved into my position, getting right in my way! Regardless, I managed to get some cool shoots of the procession. What I hadn’t anticipated is to keep up with the procession between filming and taking photos, I would have to run to stay ahead! As we made our way up the High Street the hill became steeper and steeper, which I’m sure made the look of me running even funnier!

Once we reached Castle Hill we paused for a moment so people could take photos and it was at that moment the sun decided to put in an appearance, finally! From here we could see the gorgeous Cathedral. During this interval, 4 children (around 5-7 years old) held hands and circled King John singing ‘Ring-a-roses’, so cute! Then we continued to Lincoln Castle, where even more school children gathered and a man dressed and acted as King John. He declared to the puppet “You’re supposed to be me are you?”, Mark replied “I am me!” King John “Oh... oh I see, that’ supposed to be funny is it? Well I suppose it is slightly amusing...” There was a large cake shaped like a castle, topped with an icing version of the Magna Carta and in big letters: Happy 800th Anniversary Magna Carta. The Mayor of Lincoln made a short, but sweet speech and then the cake-cutting began. Everyone had a yummy slice and then it was time to take down King John and put him back into Helen’s van. We all said “goodbye” and then made our separate ways back to Leicester.

What an amazingly unforgettable weekend! I cannot wait to do it all again!

#Lincoln #NightofFestivals #Participation

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