THEY will be dressed to impress but those taking part in this weekend’s Witney Carnival are keeping tight-lipped about their colourful costumes.

More than 30 walking and driving floats are expected to take part in the parade through the town to launch the event on Saturday.

Many will be wearing fancy dress as part of the fairytale theme-competition but have refused to reveal what they will wear, as they want to surprise carnival visitors.

Fourteen dancers from Bridge Street studio Pirate Fitness produced a costumed re-enactment of Michael Jackson’s Thriller music video last year, but missed out on the top prize.

Studio manager Natalie Tighe said: “We always like to bring a bit of a surprise to the carnival and we will have something a bit different this year. It all hinges on the music because we have a particular bit of music that’s inspired us, which relates to a local celebrity.

“We do it every year – it’s a big and fun thing for us to do and we get staff and customers involved. A lot of them look forward to it every year.”

Witney Buttercross Scout Group leader Andrew Stokes said: “For the past couple of weeks the kids have been making bits of the carnival floats.

“There’s been a lot of painting on cardboard. They get excited about the day and enjoy the competitive edge to it. We’ve won it before and are hoping to win it again this year.”

Four steam engines will be involved in the procession and coordinator Roy Garwood said: “The floats and the procession form a big part of the carnival and bring the crowds to the event.

“All the children get dressed up and it generates a lot of excitement.”

The carnival, which is supported by the Oxford Mail’s sister paper the Witney Gazette, is run by the Rotary Club, The Lions Club of Witney, Witney Round Table and the Witney Air Cadets, raising money for causes including local youth charity Base 33 and Charlbury-based Special Effect, which helps disabled children through video games.

Up to 8,000 people are expected to attend the free event and attractions will include circus skills workshops, fairground rides, children’s entertainment, classic cars, a Smiley Train ride around The Leys, a hog roast, donkey derby and stalls. There will be six races and a grand final in the donkey derby, while an arena will include performances throughout the day.


9.30am: Floats arrive at The Leys recreation ground.
11am: Procession starts and ends at The Leys, passing through Station Lane, Church Green, Corn Street, Holloway Road, Welch Way and High Street.
11.30am: Entries made to the dog show with judging for pedigree and novelty classes at 12.30pm. Entry £2.
Noon to 10pm: The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party music tent will include performances from local bands and DJs, including The Standard and James Condon.
12.30pm: Official opening of the Witney Carnival and prize-giving ceremony for the procession. There will be a series of performances lasting about 20 minutes from the likes of Oxford Caledonian Pipe Band, Chunkie Russell’s Magic Circus, Flair Dance Studio and a Punch and Judy show.
4.20pm: Tug of War final
4.30pm: Winner of the ‘lucky programme’ announced and the carnival ends.