Mardi Gras plans for Great Yarmouth

Stephen PullingerWhat does Great Yarmouth have in common with Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans?Stephen Pullinger

What does Great Yarmouth have in common with Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans?

Norfolk's premier resort is rightly proud of its beaches but none has quite the magic ring of the Copacabana.

And while Yarmouth's historic King Street may be an evolving cultural melting pot, it is scarcely on the scale of the Big Easy's French Quarter.

However, the three ports will soon have something other than the seaside in common - Mardi Gras.

Yarmouth's SeaChange Arts group is inviting the public to help it create the town's very own 'Fat Tuesday' or 'Greasy Tuesday' celebrations on Pancake Day, February 16.

SeaChange Arts chief executive Joe Mackintosh stressed that inspiration for the new event was not coming from Latin America or the Deep South but Yarmouth's own Portuguese and Lithuanian migrant communities.

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He said: 'In Portugal they have a range of Mardi Gras traditions from food fights to Brazilian-style carnivals, while in Lithuania, customs include burning the effigy of a fat lady to symbolise the death of winter and fights between a fat man and a thin man, with the thin man winning, to mark the arrival of spring.'

The fiesta will be centred on King Street to capture the atmosphere of the area's mix of Portuguese and East European shops and cafes.

'In future years, we see King Street as being a hub of our Out There festival so in some ways it will be a warm-up for that. And by February, the first phase of road works in the street's �8m regeneration scheme should be finished,' said Mr Mackintosh.

The East Coast in winter would struggle to compete with the balmy climate of New Orleans or the tropical heat of Rio, so a parade in scanty carnival gear would not be the order of the day.

'We want to bring King Street to life. We'll be looking to have fun with pancakes and there will be music and street entertainment, possibly some with a French flavour to reflect out partnership with French street festivals,' said Mr Mackintosh.

There would also be cooking demonstrations and Suffolk-based French celebrity chef Franck Pontais had expressed an interest in taking part.

Mr Mackintosh stressed there would be opportunities for community involvement and invited people to contact SeaChange Arts on 01493-846550 with ideas they might have.

'It is likely to be in the afternoon or early evening so there will be the chance for schools to take part,' he said.

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