For 16 years it has become a trend to blend and combine all the talents, interests, and many personalities of the people within the Hyde Park community in Leeds, in the free and annual event of Hyde Park Unity Day.
This year, held on Saturday 23rd July, Hyde Park Unity Day is a communal celebration, run by the community itself, relying on volunteers, and fundraising events in the run up to the annual festival. If you are looking for an event to welcome you into Leeds with open arms, you have found the event for you. With stalls advertising peace, harmony, and love, you find yourself floating around Hyde Park with a harmonious glow, with the taste of unity raw in your mouth. It is hard not to feel proud of such an amazing event, each stage represents a different taste in music, with the crowds feeling a magnetic pull towards the Reggae stages pumping out lively beats that dissolve any negative energy, you cant help but find yourself joining the strangers with the unconscious dances, and not really caring who sees.
Popular for its student friendly crowds, Unity Day unites people from every spectrum of the community, even with a children’s play area, and the romantic echoes of world peace in which this event channels is incredibly contagious. Taking place at a time of year when students are either just settling in to Leeds, or looking for something to do over the summer, it is an event not to miss. Where else can you watch a football match with Reggae and Ska beats vibrating through the air, or look on as the guys on the skate park perform tricks to Hip Hop, Dub, and Drum and bass? It is by far one of Hyde Parks coolest events, and just exemplifies how proud Leeds is at celebrating different cultures, arts, and music. If you are a Fresher coming to Leeds in preparation for your first year, make sure you invest yourself into such events, these events are not only life changing, but cast away all those fears that newcomers harbor, these events are a metaphorical hug from the community, to all its future, and present community members.
If just attending this event is not good enough for you, organisers are always on the lookout for volunteers to either raise money, design and distribute flyers, or help out at the actual event, why not help out at this event, and be part of something incredibly exciting, and morally rewarding. There is no better feeling than seeing a community at its strongest, and positively sharing the love, and appreciation of one another, and Unity Day incorporates this greatly. When I attended this event for the first time, I felt incredibly proud to have chosen such a genuine, welcoming city, which values each and every inhabitant, and rewards them with such delights. There is never a dull moment in Leeds, even in the city centre, with organisations constantly scouring the surrounding area of the shops promoting their offers (and, usually handing out freebies generously) you are always aware that you are an important part of something big.
As previously mentioned, this event is open for anyone, with people of all ages integrating within the crowds, and even pets lay next to their owners as they catch some rays and breathe in the positive atmosphere, Unity day really does not prejudice in the slightest. Activities such as the Unity Day Dog Show shed the welcoming light of importance on to the owners of some much loved pets to proudly display their canines and their beauty and abilities. The Football tournaments, which are dependent on age groups, are a great way for kids passionate about football to show off their skills, with teams having to be previously enrolled to contribute. Netball, and Cricket matches are also available, encouraging the community to take part, and have as much fun as possible. Unity Day inspires a passion for the London 2012 Olympic and paralytic games, encouraging all members of the community to display the spirit of play, and light-hearted competition, and therefore there are even Spots v Stripes giant games in the Quake cafe area.
So, if you are interested in spreading the love, or even just passing some time when you are in Leeds, make sure you visit Hyde Park Unity Day, or, if you missed the chance this year, similar events celebrating the same community togetherness such as; Leeds Carnival celebrating the beautiful Carribean cultures. Light Night celebrating the art of today’s generation, and many more. Be part of something big!
Written by Charlotte Owen, Leeds Metropolitan University.