About Us

Creativity Collaboration Celebration

Beat Carnival Centre

Space for arts, the carnival community and fantastic ideas

Beat Carnival Centre is a unique resource in NI’s arts ecosystem. Here we produce spectacular carnival arts in ways that leave a legacy of creative skills, collaboration and celebration in our communities. Projects engage the imagination of a broad range of people and highlight community and carnival arts in Northern Ireland’s creative landscape.

selected highlights

Selected highlights from Beat Carnival’s almost three decades history

In most years we created 5 large-scale carnival and outdoor arts events –  and around 35 smaller performances annually.

The Big Bang
The Big Bang, a multi-arts event for young people in East Belfast: the start of it all!
Samba Drumming
Samba Drumming training with Inner Sense from Liverpool.
Beat Initiative Company formed
The Beat Initiative company formed (later Beat Carnival) and East Belfast Arts Centre established at former East Belfast YMCA landmark building.
100 Drummers
100 Drummers, first big samba drumming parade, featuring Olodum, Brazil’s most famous carnival band (Paul Simon’s The Rhythm Of The Saints album).
Hayfever 1st Belfast Carnival Parade.
Beasts & Feasts
Beasts & Feasts 3rd Belfast Carnival Parade, afternoon in city centre, then floats put onto the water at night for spectacular fire and light carnival on the River Lagan.
International collaborations
International collaborations begin, becoming members of significant networks: Trans Europe Halles and Banlieues d’Europe.
St Patricks Day Dublin
Dublin St Patrick’s Day Parade performance.
World Cross Country Championships
World Cross Country Championships in Belfast, opening performance.
London Dome
London Dome: Our Town. Major production representing Northern Ireland on-stage at the new Millennium Dome, London in year 2000 celebrations.
A Brighter Day
No Money for Carnival Parade so we devised a weekend of indoor carnival arts performance, in St George's Market.
Move to industrial warehouse site Ballymacarrett Road, East Belfast.
Making Light
Making Light first winter carnival, first East Belfast Lantern Parade.
BEATnDRUM programme & band
Belfast St Patrick’s Day Parade
Belfast St Patrick’s Day Parade: our first production of the SPD Parade.
BelBoBru long term European pardes collaboration: Beat in Belfast, Assoc Oltre in Bologna, Zinneke in Brussels.
Beatfest and the Belfast City Carnival, two week festival. Brazilian band Moleque de Rua train 250 people. Events in parks and City-centre culminate with spectacular Carnival Parade and Carnival Party night.
Belfast City Carnival
Our summer carnival becomes Belfast City Carnival - Welcoming the New Lord Mayor: combining the two parade events in one.
Relocation across town, our 3rd building move.
Fly Butterfly
Fly Butterfly. Re-opening of Belfast City Hall event: debut aerial dance performance from roof, after parade.
Life is a Carnival
Life Is A Carnival in Botanic Gardens with aerial performance on walls of Ulster Museum.
Land Of Giants
Land Of Giants huge spectacle at Titanic slipways and Journey to Land of Giants youth touring show.
Day Of The Dead
Day Of The Dead in city centre and City Hall grounds, for Belfast Arts Festival 50th Birthday.
Urban Ballet Parade
Urban Ballet Parade.
Belfast Carnival Village
Belfast Carnival Village in Ormeau Park.
Light Up The Road
Light Up The Road: our first Shankill Lantern Parade.
Global Pandemic
Global pandemic shuts down public facing work and performance. Time to plan for when we can gather for carnival togetherness in the streets again!
We Are All Patrick - Belfast St Patrick's Day
Back post-pandemic with a bang! Patrick dons a huge cloak, elegantly patchwork-fashioned by people throughout Belfast. Patrick sets off on a journey through the City, together with giant hound, Spiorad (spirit of adventure) and a cavalcade of carnival dancers, circus artists and musicians. All manner of individuals and community organisations burst from City Hall gates celebrating their part in the future, varied and different yet strongly united by the instinct for moving forwards together – proclaiming that We Are All Patrick, We Are All Belfast.
Beat turns 30!
Beat celebrates 30 years of inspiring Creativity, Collaboration and Celebration in the heart of Northern Ireland with a week-long festival.
The Way Forward

Developing a Carnival Consortium

To support the wide carnival community of companies, artists and neighbourhood partners, we are exploring the idea of creating a Carnival Consortium. We have questionnaires to identify potential members and their interests. If you are part of the carnival community, please have a look: we will be grateful to receive responses over the next month to get the ball rolling.

Consortium Questionnaire

Please complete the appropriate questionaire

Community Music

Encouraging music participation and collaboration opportunities

Music has been one of our core artforms since the beginning, forming and supporting bands of all types and commissioning compositions and songs. 

Beat Carnival created this Community Music Groups Map as a resource for spotlighting and accessing the variety of Community Music available in and around Belfast, to encourage collaboration, participation and performance opportunities. Click the icon at top left corner of the Map to show a Map Key. Groups are currently listed in categories of Accordion Bands, Choirs, Flute Bands, Percussion, Strings. This is a start: please contact Beat Carnival with further information and suggestions so that we can add to the Map resource.


The company, the Centre and programmes are managed by a small, full-time team of 3 and part-time 2

David Boyd MBE

Founder - Director

Jean Boyd

Operations Manager

Matt Vernon

Carnival Artist

Rebecca Boyd

Projects Manager

Tanya Kearns

Youth & Community Development Officer

Freelance team

Beat regularly employs freelance artists in the Carnival Centre Artists Team and Outreach Artists Team, plus key performers, coordinators and events personnel. The staff team is assisted by contracted Project and Programme leaders and administration workers.

Stefanie Campbell (Chair)

An experienced Further Education lecturer, trainer, peer mentor and educational leader, with a passion for pedagogy and harnessing the power of digital tools to enhance teaching, learning, and working within education. Musician.

Lucy Dougan (Deputy Chair)

Lucy Dougan is a marketing professional with 18 years’ experience and currently works for Mediahuis (Belfast Telegraph, Sunday Life, Irish & Sunday Independent). Her skill set includes creating innovative and cost-effective marketing and communications solutions, conducting and interpreting market and customer research, and creating sales strategies to drive profitability.

Frank Galbraith

Frank runs his own business providing accountancy services and acts as the accountant for a number of charitable organisations.

Deidre McKenna

Deirdre McKenna is a visual artist/curator and studio member of Flax Art Studios, Belfast. From 2017-2022 she worked with the University of Atypical as Creative Programmes and Participation lead. She now works for Black Box.

Oswyn Paulin

Before retirement, Oswyn was the first head of the Government Legal Service. As Crown Solicitor for NI and Departmental Solicitor for the devolved administration he led one of the largest legal practices in this jurisdiction. Work included advisory, litigation and property matters.

Sheelagh Colclough (Associate)

Sheelagh is an artist and researcher and has a role of Advisor to the Board / Artists Liaison. She has worked with Beat on community arts and events teams and previously served on the Board.

Funders, Networks & Partners

Beat Carnival is core funded by:

Other Beat Carnival funders and supporters:

Beat Carnival is a proud member of:

Trans Europe Halles – One of the oldest and most dynamic cultural networks in Europe. A member since 1997, Beat Carnival is also on the TEH Arts Education Hub steering group.

Junkanew – A carnival concept delivered by Junkanew partners to encourage the use of environmentally friendly materials and non-motorised processions.

Carnival Organisers Guild

Carnival Organisers Guild – for mutual aid, sector development, support and furtherance of carnival arts in the UK.

Banlieues d’Europe – Although it closed in 2015 we want to acknowledge this unique network of artists, activists and researchers, which supported participatory and inclusive cultural work in the often disadvantaged neighborhoods and communities of Europe’s cities. Beat was a member from 1997.

Environmental commitments

The Environment

Beat Carnival is committed to protecting the environment. We try to produce carnival events and run artistic activities with as little impact on the environment as possible.