Pimlico: the parade

Fourth in a series of articles on Pimlico, putting words to page on an area of London that I’ve lived in for a few years.  If these read well, I might cover other parts of London I know or explore in the same manner. You can use the ‘Pimlico’ category tag on this site to see the related posts. This one is about an annual parade held in Pimlico.

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The 2018 Everyvoice Parade, coming down Tachbrook Street in Pimlico.

It took me years to finally see this. With mild shame, I’ll admit that for a couple of those first years I was lying in bed with a hangover when the parade came past. But last year, and the year before, I caught it in full swing. And although I had a camera with me that first time, too, this time I was able to get some much better pictures.

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The two leaders of the 2018 parade.

On a hot June day in 2018, as I gently sweltered at home in the flat, I recognised a faint thumping in the air. It was midday, and a rhythmic, distant drumming could be heard – luckily, though, it was not the type heard in Moria, this was way less ominous. This drumming, in fact, signalled that the Pimlico parade was coming. Over the next few minutes, as I grabbed my things together to leave the flat, the sound intensified and layers of the beat could be picked out. It was slow-moving, but from experience I knew it was getting closer. Soon, the shrill counter-tone of the whistles could be made out as well.

I rushed downstairs, knowing it would soon pass by the flat and that this year I’d actually get some decent pictures. Finally, I could prove to friends that yes, even quiet little Pimlico was metropolitan and cultural enough to have a parade all of its own.

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So much glorious colour, on a bright summer’s day.

The Everyvoice parade is part of SouthWestFest, an annual series of community celebrations that are held over the summer in SW1. I’ll confess that I’ve only ever accidentally engaged with the events of the wider festival, despite being resident in SW1 for several years, but the parade is impossible to miss.

From the website description for 2018:

“Join SouthWestFest for a summer celebration of SW1, starting with an amazing opening weekend featuring the Pimlico Proms on Friday the 29th June with the multi award winning Kew Wind Orchestra and also the award winning Northern California Children’s Choir and local cabaret legend Eve Ferrett.

Saturday the 30th June kicks-off with our Everyvoice Carnival Parade and Festival Day at St.Georges Square including live music, dance and performance, plus fairground rides, Fit Up Circus stage, Live Art with Tate Britain, a city farm, Healthzone, rock climbing wall,  family fun activities, graffiti art workshops, crafts, market stalls, food and more.”

The parade makes me smile. It’s so bright, vibrant and loud. It really contrasts with the usual greys, beige and white of Pimlico, and against the backdrop of London’s buildings it is such a fun sight.

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Dancers in the 2018 parade, putting on a parasol display.

Led by the UDM Samba band and dancers, the parade isn’t huge, though it certainly feels like it as it passes. It also features within its ranks a number of community organisations including LEYF Nurseries and even the Fire Brigade rolling along in support at the back. It’s a moment of joy and happiness as it passes, starting out in St Georges Square, beating its happy way down Moreton Street, before continuing via Tachbrook Street, where I picked it up, and then on to… er, wherever it goes on to. I can usually hear it for a good while, so I don’t think it goes all that far.

I do sometimes feel that Pimlico lacks an obvious community. I’m willing to accept this may just be my view, and a result of my own failure to seek and engage in it fully. SouthWestFest, and all of the other events that it encompasses beyond the excitement and fun of the parade, reminds me that there is indeed a community here, and that there are a lot of people who take joy in music, colour, community and celebration.

And that makes me happy.

More details about SouthWest Fest can be found here.

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The only good 2017 parade picture I have – it was a much greyer day outside, so looks less bright.

You can use the ‘Pimlico’ category tag on this site to see the related posts.


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