Three disappointing summers have passed with a carnival-shaped hole in our hearts, but finally, St Pauls Carnival returns this Saturday in line with the carnival’s 50th anniversary. 

The important celebration of Bristol’s African and Caribbean heritage has been a vital source of inspiration for much of the city’s culture and musical output over the past five decades. And while there is plenty to see and do, including the colourful parade – which will be making its way through St Pauls and its surrounding areas from midday until 4pm – we’re taking a look at some of the musical highlights. 

This year, there will be two stages and over a dozen official sound systems dotted throughout St Pauls, Montpellier and Stokes Croft. Most rigs will be kicking off at midday and running through till 10pm, with after parties taking place all over the city. Here are a few key sound systems and sets to look out for…  

Windrush Stage – Corey Close

Acting as the Carnival’s main stage, Windrush will host a combination of community groups, cultural showcases and live music throughout the day, kicking off with a five minute Carnival Blessing at 11.55am. Stand-out live music to catch at Windrush includes Bristol-based multi-national group Baraka, whose unique sound draws the music of Ghana, Senegal, Dominica, Trinidad and Southern Ireland. Plus, of course, a closing set from Bristol reggae royalty Laid Blak.     

Highlights:
Baraka – 20.00-20.45

Laid Blak – 21.00-22.00

World Carnival Stage – Brunswick Square

The-Scribes-Lukasz-Kaminski

St Pauls Carnival’s second stage opens later at 1.55pm with a short Carnival Blessing and also hosts a mix of culture and live music, with a little more of a lean towards the latter. Bigger names on the lineup include Bristol/Plymouth-based alternative hip hop trio The Scribes, a heavyweight back-to-back from Dismantle b2b Boeke b2b LUCY, and a big finale from Bristol titan Roni Size with MC Jakes.  

Highlights: 
The Scribes
– 18.50-19.20
Dismantle b2b Boeke b2b LUCY
– 20.10-21.05
Roni Size with MC Jakes
– 21.15-22.00

Bristol Showcase – Hamilton House

Nitelife Local Talent - K Stylz

While most of the sound systems are celebrating Bristol musicians throughout the day, the Bristol Showcase stage makes a conscious effort to elevate some of our city’s lesser known, rising talent. Highlights include production trio Sly One, Bristol drum and bass king Carasel and genre-neutral The Blast residents K Stylz b2b Fireman Sam and Slowie. 

the Bristol Showcase stage makes a conscious effort to elevate some of our city’s lesser known, rising talent

There’s also a special guest appearance from Rinse FM’s Marcus Nasty b2b DJ Polo who, although London-based, has been a very good friend to Bristol’s underground music scene. The penultimate set from another Blast resident, drum and bass producer Jaydrop is another one not to miss, before Bristol-based bass head Sherry S and Scar Duggy shut down the rig.   

Highlights:
Sly One – 14.15-15.00
Carasel – 16.00-17.00
K Stylz b2b Fireman Sam and Slowie – 17.00-17.45
Marcus Nasty b2b DJ Polo – 18.40-19.30
Jaydrop with Puma MC – 20.30-21.15
Sherry S and Scar Duggy  – 21.15-22.00

Bristol Collective – Coroners Court

At the other end of the spectrum, the Bristol Collective sound system is all about some of Bristol’s biggest and most influential artists, including Sian Evans, Krust, Joker, RSD and Tectonic boss Pinch. 

There’s also what looks like a two-hour free for all with some of Bristol’s drum and bass stars, with  DLR, Total Science, Hydro, Mako, Onset, Subtle Element, Gusto, Charlie Brix, Kyo and Rider Shafique.

Highlights:
Sian Evans – 16.15-16.45
DLR, Total Science, Hydro, Mako, Onset, Subtle Element, Gusto, Charlie Brix, Kyo and Rider Shafique – 17.30-19.30
Krust – 19.30-20.15
Joker with Koast – 21.15-20.45
Pinch with Koast – 20.45-21.15
RSD – 21.15-22.00

Who Cares?¿ – Malcolm X Community Centre car park

Emerging out of nowhere in 2014 with a ridiculous roster of residents, The Who Cares?¿ collective have mission to bring people together for the love of music over lineups – keeping it all under wraps until you walk through the doors. 

Although they’ve announced a lineup for St Pauls Carnival, they’re still putting vibe before hype, with two of the biggest names on the lineup taking the early doors set, with Kahn and Neek opening the sound system at 5pm for a 45 minute dancehall set. 

The Who Cares?¿ collective have mission to bring people together for the love of music over lineups

Relatively fresh, but super talented producer L U C Y is another one to catch. Her blend of grime, dubstep and dancehall influences create a unique, intriguing and danceable energy. She’s followed by three of Bristol’s best grime producers going head to head, with a 45 minute set from OH91 x Hi5ghost x Boofy. And house and bassline producers N.Y.T.A vs GotSome from 9pm-10pm is bound to be an extremely memorable set. 

Highlights:
Kahn and Neek (dancehall set) – 17.00-17.45
L U C Y – 18.15-18.45
OH91 x Hi5Ghost x Boofy – 18.45-19.30
N.Y.T.A x GotSome – 20.00

Coalition Sound – Wilder street

Coalition Sound are hosting the biggest early doors set of the Carnival, with Bristol bass giants My Nu Leng going b2b with Dutty Girl and Dread MC and Daley on mic duty from 1-2pm. In contrast, producer Sasha Steppa b2b producer-singer Bliss Zion will make for a lovely, chilled late afternoon set. Other highlights include multi-talented producer and Hold Tight Records resident Dutchie, whose latest project spans from reggae to dubstep, and Amen4Tekno founder and jungletek figurehead  Mandidextrous.

Coalition Sound are hosting the biggest early doors set of the Carnival

Highlights:
My Nu Leng b2b Dutty Girl ft Dread MC and Daley – 13.00-14.00
Sasha Steppa b2b Blizz Zion – 16.00-17.00
Dutchie – 17.00-18.00
Mandidextrous – 21.00-22.00

Unity Stage – St Pauls Park

Gardna-Nitelife

Unity Stage also presents a mixed programme of community and cultural events throughout the day, although musically, there’s an afternoon set from Bristol sound system MC Gardna, which will be guaranteed good vibes and surprise headliner closing the stage.    

Highlights:
Gardna – 16.30-17.00
Surprise headliner – 20.15-21.00

Boom Ting – Lakota car park

DMT, Wonka Vision and The Scrapyard have joined forces on the Boom Ting sound system in the Lakota car park. Although they’ve not released set times, it will be worth checking in throughout the day, with sets confirmed from Randall, 24hr Garage Girls with Shosh, and a Boom Sound takeover with Gardna, Kreed, JMan, Jinx in Dub, Asbo Disco and Fat Stash.   

Highlights:
Randall and Dismantle
Boom Sound takeover: Gardna, Kreed, JMan, Jinx in Dub, Asbo Disco, Fat Stash
24hr Garage Girls with Shosh

Jah Tubbys sound system – Argyle Road

Representing the traditional dub reggae sound system is the Jam Tubbys sound system with selector Gregory Fabulous from noon until 10pm. The sound system is almost as old as St Pauls Carnival itself, playing and building since 1971. 

Maasai Warrior Sound System – Kuumba Centre

Maasai Warrior Sound System will be doing the same thing over at Kuumba Centre, with selector Iman Issachar all day and evening performances from Donovan Kingjay and Joseph Lalibela.

7 July – St Pauls Carnival, St Pauls, Montpellier and Stokes Croft
stpaulscarnival.net

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