During Lockdown we have been researching the history of Shirley Carnival.

Shirley Carnival has been a key part of the community calendar since the 1900's when there were parades and processions leading to the Shirley Parish Fete. By 1934 this had grown into a huge local event held over a whole week. On the day there would be a large parade with marching bands, floats and a Carnival King and Queen.

Even the war did not completely stop it as one was held in 1940 although attendance was down.

After the war it was re-established by the newly formed Shirley Community Association and was very successful to the extent that in one year, according to newspaper reports at the time, the carnival was attended by 30,000 people and the procession was a mile long.

Sadly those times did not last and due to dwindling support the last one was held in 1959.

Then in 1979 Shirley Lions revived it as the Shirley Lions Carnival and with the exception of Covid Lockdowns it has taken place every year. In its early years as Shirley Lions Carnival there was a procession with local organisations, schools etc. entering floats.

In those days there was a Carnival Queen Ball where the winner was selected ready for the procession on carnival day. Unfortunately towards 2000 support for the carnival floats dwindled, and with the introduction of speed humps and increasing traffic on the Stratford Road itself, the procession had to be discontinued.

But the carnival itself continues and now attracts about 4,000 people every year, enjoying an afternoon of entertainment in Shirley Park with arena acts, bands, funfair and 70 or so side stalls for games, tombolas and sales of numerous goodies to help raise funds for local charities.

Shirley Lions Carnival will be bac next year on Saturday 13th July 2024 and we would love to see you there.

In the meantime please do look closely at the photos below from previous years and if you recognise yourself or someone else in the photo please do contact us.


 1950's parade 1956 Carnival  


1980 Carnival Queen contestants 1980 Carnival Queen with Attendants 1980 Carnival Queen and attendants ready for the procession. 1980 Carnival - Parade getting ready for the off

1980 Carnival revival 1980 Carnival parade (1)  1980 Carnival float - 4th Shirley Scouts 1980 Carnival float - the whole world came along

1980 Carnival parade - TS Gamecock 1980 Drum majorettes  1980 Carnival - Partners jean Stroyd (left) & Muriel Carter (right)


1993 Lion President Martin and a little Lion1993 float1993 float a


1995 carnival Queen and attendants  1995 Lion President Ken and the Mayor1995 Shirley Pipe band march along the Stratford Road 

1995 Press cutting1995 Press cutting a


2011 carnival field a  2011 Lion witch Gillian  2011 carnival field


2013 Carnival 2 (1) 2013 carnival field 2013 Carnival 2 (2)


Paintball   Stalls  Lily and Tiffany have a spin on the cups ride


Jet Force Dance group lead the Mayor to the carnival   The Mayor takes aim on the paintball stand Shirley Pipe Band a