Beat Carnival Vision

Creativity. Collaboration. Celebration.

Beat Carnival is an independent arts company comprising the Beat Initiative charity and a social enterprise, Beat Trading, which raises income for our charitable activities. Our role is to create and produce carnival arts, organise and direct performances, train and develop artists and encourage community participation and ambition. Beat Carnival operates from the Beat Carnival Centre in Belfast, Northern Ireland. From this world-class carnival centre of excellence, we deliver many free workshops and training programmes, from drumming to costume design, dance to puppetry. In this way, we help develop creative skills for all, with participants as young as four and as old as - well, we wouldn't like to say! This is all part of our commitment to developing skills and new artforms and building capacity in our communities and the carnival sector as a whole. Want to hire us to design and stage an event for you, coordinate an outreach programme or provide professional entertainers? See our services page. Want to come take part in our skills-building courses? Read what's on offer at our activities pages.

The Beat Carnival Centre is a safe space for fantastic ideas, arts activities and the carnival community. We produce spectacular, participative carnival arts in ways that leave a legacy of creative skills, collaboration and celebration in our communities. Projects beneficially engage the imagination of a broad range of audience from all sections of the community. The Beat Carnival produces events that underline carnival’s place on the creative landscape. 


2014 Programme: Beat's "Made In Belfast" Carnival

Beat's "Made in Belfast" Carnival billboard poster

In 2013, our carnival parade was a highlight of Culture Night Belfast, as we brought you the final performance of international hip-hop carnival project, Urban Ballet. Performances had already taken place in Portugal, France and South Africa. With our international partners we produced a finale performance, the Belfast Urban Ballet on Fri 20 Sep. This year, we kept it local - and we expanded the presentation by adding a big street choir. Carnival Camp, a week-long festival of dance and music for our performers led us into our Made in Belfast Carnival on Culture Night (Friday 19th September), featuring:

Urban Ballet: The UB Dancers, led by our BEATnDANCE team, were driven along by the massive sound of Carnival Drummers, the Beat Street Choir and the Carnival Band. Building on last year's Urban Ballet drumming score, Beat Musician In Residence 2014, Katie Richardson, composed music and written lyrics inspired by Belfast. Our Beat Street Choir and Carnival Band performed the songs alongside a massed drum section led by our own BEATnDRUM samba band.

The Night Garden: Next in parade line, reflecting Culture Night’s Growth theme, was Beat's Giant Gardener, enjoying an Urban Garden of flower lanterns and music sprouting from the new Belfast Guitar Orchestra. For this section of the parade, we worked with members of community, youth and arts groups from across Belfast, who created gorgeous fairy lanterns for our floats and to carry in this magical parade inspiring pride in our shared city.

The Finale - Tusk & Urban Ballet: At 9.15 our carnival parade flooded into Donegall Street; a mammoth performance of Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk featuring the new Belfast Guitar Orchestra with the dancers, singers and drummers led us into Urban Ballet’s music and dance crescendo at the steps of St Anne’s Cathedral.

A massive thank-you to all our sponsors and a huge well done to all our participants - the atmosphere was electric throughout! If you missed it - or want to reminisce - here's our official video of the night:

2013 Programme: U B Carnival

Beat Carnival's "U B Carnival featuring Urban Ballet" billboard

Our 2013 programme was U B Carnival, an urban arts programme developed around international dance and hip-hop project, Urban Ballet. Urban Ballet was a partnership project between four major international festivals, Musiques de Nuit Diffusion (Bordeaux, France), Imaginarius Festival (Santa Maria de la Feira, Portugal), National Arts Festival (Grahamstown, South Africa) and ourselves, The Beat Carnival (Belfast, Northern Ireland). The four organisations came together to create an innovative, contemporary urban parade which would be performed in each of the four host cities after residency weeks where artists could meet, learn and perform together. During each residency, local artists worked with the visiting specialists to develop the core choreography and music of Urban Ballet for their respective performances.


The core choreography for Urban Ballet was devised by two specialist dance organisations:

Compagnie Hors Série
Choreographer/dancer Hamid Ben Hami founded Hors Série in order to push the boundaries of hip hop dance. He uses hybrid choreographies mixing hip hop and contemporary dance to re-examine society.

Compagnie Via Kathleong
Via Katlehong Dance is a South African dance company that specializes in Pantsula, a dance originating in the townships of South Africa, as well as Gumboots, Tap Pantsula and Steps. They run a dance school for the community and employ 18 full-time dance artists for their company.


The creative team for the Urban Ballet percussion is led by:

Duda,  Sao Paulo, Brasil
Duda on Soundcloud
Duda's Moleque da Rua

Jo Zanders, Brussels, Belgium
BelBoBru - a two-year drumming, puppetry and streat theatre project between Belfast (Beat Carnival), Bologna (Associazione Culturale Oltre) and Brussels (Zinneke).

Belfast Urban Ballet

Urban Ballet wasperformed in France, South Africa and Portugal, with the final performance being hosted by the Beat Carnival in Belfast, Northern Ireland on September 20th. This special Culture Night Belfast 2013 performance involved 100 dancers and 100 drummers in a joyous street carnival leading from Belfast City Hall to Writers' Square. From the 14th September, a residency week with the visiting Urban Ballet artists was run alongside local workshops facilitated by Beat Carnival artists, including Matt Vernon, who leads The Beat Carnival's in-house samba band, Beatndrum and Beat • Dancer In Residence Dior Cunha. 

100 Drummers

Matt and BEATnDRUM rehearsed the Urban Ballet score with musicians from Belfast and beyond. If you'd like to join BEATnDRUM - contact Matt at

100 Dancers

Dance rehearsals for Belfast Urban Ballet were faciliated by Beat Dancer-in-Residence Dior Cunha and the BEATnDANCE team, Jazzmin McClure and Helen Hall. 


View a short clip of our Urban Ballet performance:

View the director's cut below!