Beeston Festival – Sunshine, Belly Dancers & Wrestlers


Lord Mayor of Leeds
Lord Mayor of Leeds & Lady Mayoress

This year’s Beeston Festival took place on Saturday 8th June in Cross Flatts Park, the event was officially opened by the Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP. This was followed later on in the afternoon with a visit from the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Tom Murray.

I love coming to community events like this, as it’s like going for a trip around the world, but you don’t need a plane on this trip. This year’s event was bathed in Caribbean sunshine with steel pans playing in the background, with jazz from New Orleans, music from Zimbabwe, All in American Wrestling and Tai Chi from China. Then there was an assault on your taste buds with the mixed fusion of smells of curries, barbecues’ cooking burgers, hot dogs, jerk chicken…  yummy yummy yummy, I feel I have gone to heaven!!

As the Lord Mayor said:

“It’s very tempting when you see the stalls, the cakes, the curries, the barbecues that are going on…… if you love the food your tempted aren’t you? You’ve got to watch your waist line.”

Photos by St Clair Brown, Paul Bullivant and Jeremy Morton


I asked people what they thought of the festival. One young person said:

“I like the dancing, people enjoying it, singing, jumping everything it’s fun … I’m going to have fish and chips to eat.”

“I think its brilliant” said Jo, a volunteer “I’m especially loving fact that we’ve ordered the sunshine this year!”

For those armchair visitors, you could just sit, watch and listen to the various performances scattered around the park where you had Iive bands and performers all day long. In the main arena on stage, there was East Steel a steel pan orchestra, Middleman, a jazz and blues band called Alligator Gumbo and Zimbabwean band Kudaushe Matima’s Harare.

On the Leeds Music Trust Stage in a marquee at the top end of the park the performers where the Traveller, Mo Mo’s, Joe Kemp, Bad Sugar and the Leeds 6 All Stars. Adjacent to the children’s play area there was an Open Mic session on the acoustic stage – the performer I saw was Katharine Lay singing a sweet soulful melody. It is so unusual to have so many diverse performers all in one venue for free.

For the sporting people, there were a lots of young people playing a wide range of sports –  Wrestling, there was the Winthorpe Whirlers, an Under 10’s rugby match between the Beeston Broncos and Outlon Raiders, short tennis and wheel chair tennis, football matches, rock climbing and the Leeds Lions Taekwondo display team. I am hoping in years to come, I will see all these young people representing Team GB in their respective sports.

Other events on the day included the IMASA Tai Chi. This was a group black belt kicking pensioners, I thought pensioners where suppose to do gardening? DAZL dance group, Rapide Brothers clowns and the Leeds Dynamite Cheerleaders also entertained in the Arena. And I almost forget the Egyptia Dance Group aka the Belly Dancers. Why oh why can’t Belly Dancing be an Olympic sport? That’s what I want to know.

On my travels around the event I was accosted by two medieval swordsmen, carrying long swords, dressed in armour and threatening all manner of things if I didn’t contribute to the Friends of Stank Hall Barn fund. I obviously made a substantial contribution and was released with cry of “Be gone with thee, blaggard”.

For the kids there was Mickey and Minnie Mouse, the Hunslet Hawks mascot, Harry the Hawk and Sponge Bob (whoever was under that costume must have been hot). Did you see the flying Beetle – it can fly up to 5 miles away under remote control – it has on board battery, camera and GPS tracking.

A big shout out to the charity stalls selling refreshments & running tombolas, to raising much needed cash for local groups doing really good work in the Beeston area.

There was also a number organisations with stalls promoting the services they deliver to local people in the Beeston area including Unity Housing, Touchstone, Health for All, Leeds Youth Service, South Leeds Academy, Hamara Centre, to mention a few.

Congratulations to the organisers of the 2013 Beeston Festival for once again bringing the community of South Leeds together.


This article was written by St Clair Brown using our Community Reporters website