Kilburn festival joy

KILBURN took on a Latin flavour over the weekend as the Kilburn festival hit Grange Park, bringing with it Bolivian dance troupes, Latino food and a sandy beach worthy of Rio itself, writes Kate Ferguson. Residents flocked to the park to soak up the sun,

KILBURN took on a Latin flavour over the weekend as the Kilburn festival hit Grange Park, bringing with it Bolivian dance troupes, Latino food and a sandy beach worthy of Rio itself, writes Kate Ferguson.

Residents flocked to the park to soak up the sun, sounds, and talent out in force at the festival fiesta - the final dance and music extravaganza, which brought to a close a week long cultural festival staged at venues across Kilburn.

And the performers did not disappoint.

Festival goers slipped on their dancing shoes and salsaed the day away listening to an array of top Latin American musicians, including local lady J CHICA E, and an authentic Cuban band.

Young and old joined in the fun, with Limelight, a youth musical group, making an appearance alongside the more than 60s Line dancers - a firm crowd favourite.

Each year the festival celebrates the culture of a specific country and interweaves the music, cuisine and dance of that nation with the festival's events.

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Last year the theme was Ireland, in celebration of the rich Celtic history of the area.

Leoncio Caicebo, who works with Ola Latina, a group which organises Latino music and dance events and helped stage this year's festival, said while the festival takes on a different theme each year, it is the diversity and inclusivity that makes the Kilburn festival unique.

He said: "One of the reasons the theme is Latin American is because 2010 is the year of the bicentenary of the birth of the concept of Latin America, so it is very symbolic to the Latin American community who live in Kilburn.

"I think the Kilburn festival is special because of the variety of events and different groups involved. It is not just about one day like so many community festivals - it runs for quite a few days and takes in a range of venues.

"There is real potential for the festival to grow and to highlight the cultural richness of the area. Its charm is that it is all community based - it brings together schools, local artists and businesses."

The highlight of the day was the Bolivian folk dance troupe who paraded through the park in traditional dress joined by youngsters from Kingsgate Primary School, who wore masks they made especially for the day.

Making a welcome return to the festival, and finishing off their summer road trip in style, was the Big Dance Bus, an impressive double decker, which blasted out South American tunes all day.

And for those who found themselves all danced out, jewellery stalls, kids activity tents, an old people's tea party, and the one and only Kilburn beach, provided a little relief from the dancing frenzy.

Caren Owen, Kilburn festival organiser, said: "It has been a fantastic day and everybody has had a great time.

"We put the festival on each year to celebrate the culture of a specific area or country. I think the American theme really worked, the Bolivian parade looked incredible and brought a little bit of South American glamour to north west London.

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