Cape Town Carnival’s crew hard at work

Cape Town, 08 February 2017 – With only 40 days to go until the Cape Town Carnival on 18 March, all teams are working at full steam to make the event truly spectacular. “Many months of creative workshopping are going into the design and concepts that will bring this year’s theme, AMAZA! – Ocean Odyssey, to life,” says Brad Baard, creative director of the Cape Town Carnival. “A team of up to 90 people work on creating the floats, sculptures, puppets and costumes at our Maitland workshop.”

Floatbuilding takes a sizeable team of designers, metalworkers and electricians, who break down and repurpose floats used in previous years to keep the carnival as green as possible. The problem-solving, exploration and ingenuity involved in designing and creating the intricate floats is a great teambuilding exercise and encourages social integration.

The costume department creates not only the outfits but also backpacks, headgear and accessories. “We have nearly 2 000 performers who need to be in costume for the carnival,” says Gillian Gregg, head of the costume department.

Each year, the Cape Town Carnival puts out a call for creative participation to the broader Cape Town community and farther afield. Members of the public can submit their proposals around the theme, and they go through an assessment process in which the top projects are chosen to be showcased at the carnival. “We received fantastic proposals and we’re thrilled to see them come to life,” says Angela Mac Pherson, head of floatbuilding. This a great way for South Africans to be involved and get exposure to the inner workings of the Cape Town Carnival,  as they implement their chosen idea.

The oceanic theme provides a wealth of amazing creative opportunities, with mermaids, yellow submarines, beach umbrellas and coral gardens just some of the exciting motifs that will be showcased. This year, spectators can look forward to 17 mesmerising larger-than-life floats, including a giant sea urchin, a jellyfish garden party and Atlantis, exploring the ocean from myriad angles.

International carnival artists collaborate with the Cape Town Carnival through an exchange programme to bring invaluable experience to the event. “Through the carnival culture, a global community, we’re also able to send our artists to participate in events overseas,” says Cape Town Carnival CEO Jay Douwes. Yasmin Long, a young carnival artist from the United Kingdom, completed a two-month programme at the Maitland workshop in 2016, while Leeshaam Stringer of the Cape Town Carnival had a similar experience in the UK and brought back skills to implement for this year’s event.

“The carnival is one the most unifying events that brings together residents from across Cape Town in a truly inclusive manner. More importantly it gives our home-grown community and school groups an opportunity to showcase their talent.  Looking at this year’s theme, I am confident that revellers will be in for a treat when giant floats, wacky puppets and amazing specialty acts ignite the fan walk once again. Our support for the Cape Town Carnival forms part of our efforts to foster unity within our communities and to position Cape Town as the events capital of Africa,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security (Events), Alderman JP Smith.

Sponsors of the event include the City of Cape Town, the National Department of Arts and Culture, M-Net, DStv, the Western Cape Government, Tsogo Sun, Media24 and Kfm. “The Cape Town Carnival is a non-profit organisation and is thankful to have supportive sponsors that make this annual carnival such a success,” says Douwes.