Thousands take to the streets for Féile carnival

Festival fever finally arrived in West Belfast yesterday as thousands turned out to take part in the eagerly awaited Féile carnival.

The sights and sounds of summer filled the Falls Road as big kids of all ages joined in the midday madness. Floats and fancy dress costumes were the order of the day as the sea of carnival colour wound its way slowly towards the Falls Park to cheers from enthusiastic onlookers. This year's carnival theme, Myths and Legends, brought out the best in creative craft as communities from across the west battled to outdo each other. Cuchullain took his place in the parade several times and pushed Ulster's other warrior hero, Finn McCool, for top spot in the popularity stakes. Dermot and Grainne as well as the Children of Lir also made an appearance.

Tempers boiled over in the sweltering heat when the Bombay Street grannies reached from their float to batter baton-wielding PSNI/RUC men and their Orange Order chums with their slipper soles Baghdad-style.

Rumours were rife that some prominent members of Sinn Féin had defected to the ranks of the PSNI as part of the pageant to highlight collusion.

But Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams was on hand to quash any speculation that such an arrangement was permanent. The West Belfast MP basked, and baked, in the summer sun as temperatures soared.

While hundreds came along to take part most were happy to stand on the pavement and just soak up the carnival atmosphere. But even they weren't immune from the infectious flow of high spirits and goodwill that spilled from excited marchers.

Wide-eyed kids looked on as the fleet of floats passed by to the sounds of the samba and traditional tunes. Some youngsters threatened to run riot, fired up by the crazy carnival atmosphere as jazz bands, marching bands, pipe bands and flute bands all combined to please the crowd. Back in Falls Park face painters had plenty of trade. The ice cream men and burger stalls had little room for complaint either. As families settled in for an evening of entertainment Féile director Carol Jackson couldn't believe her luck.

"It's been a great day and the sun came out for the people of West Belfast," she beamed.

Journalist:: Connla Young

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