"To make the past present, to bring the distant near . . . to call up our ancestors before us with all their peculiarities of language, manners, and garb, to show us over their houses, to seat us at their tables, to rummage their old-fashioned ward-robes, to explain the uses of their ponderous furniture . . . " Thomas Babington Macaulay describing what the study of history can do (written in 1828)
Ventnor’s first carnival in 1889 was a torchlight procession of ladies and gentlemen in fancy dress, followed by a Masquerade Ball. It was such a success that it became an annual event, attracting crowds of thousands. So each August, the town comes to a standstill to enjoy a parade of music and elaborate costumes with tableaux created by local groups and businesses, and a Carnival Queen chosen for the year and paraded round the town with her retainers. However there has always been another, more subversive side to 'Carnival’. Those taking part can step outside their day to day lives and turn the world upside down, dressing up, assuming different characters, and poking fun at established order and authority. It is a feast of dressing up, foolery, and music, perhaps best symbolised by the much loved Ventnor Comic Jazz Band. Our publication 'Ventnor Carnival', available in the Heritage Centre, traces the colourful history of the event.