We are pleased to announce the return of its award-winning Culture Bazaar after a two-year hiatus as a result of the pandemic.

The spectacular two-day event aims to bring people from different backgrounds together to celebrate their cultures. Culture Bazaar (CB2023) will also be a great chance for people to experience the food, dance, music and art of people who may not have been born in Cumbria but call Carlisle home.

The event – which was established in 2007 – has taken place intermittently over the years and in 2020 more than 4,000 people flocked to Richard Rose Central Academy for a weekend of fun and culture.

Now after an enforced break caused by the pandemic, we are gearing up for the  return of the Culture Bazaar on April 22 and 23, 2023, at Carlisle College.

Since it started the community organised event has been celebrating and educating the diverse communities which share in the life of Carlisle and Cumbria. It continues to be a free event to enable the whole community to access the wealth of international heritage and culture.   

Saj Ghafoor OBE first brought Culture Bazaar to Carlisle in 2007 after she and her husband, Abdul opened their Asian grocery store back in 2005

She said: “We did not expect the ethnic mix of people living in Carlisle. The first thing customers would ask was if we knew anyone from their country. I ended up having a little red book where I started writing their name, number and country of heritage and matching them up with any other customers that also wanted a friend.”

Culture Bazaar was born shortly after and began with 200 visitors coming together at Greystone Community Centre for the first bazaar. This year Saj expects nearly 5000 visitors to an event that has grown in popularity year after year.  It is also the weekend of the Islamic Eid-ul-fitr celebrations following the holy month of fasting.

“People always comment on the great atmosphere,” said Saj. “The ethnic communities engage by performing dances, singing, music and making food so people can try authentic home cooking from all the continents.” 

“The Culture Bazaar is a big family party and everyone is welcome.  In 2020 more than 50 nationalities were involved and it seems to be a surprise to everyone that Carlisle is so diverse. 

“We aim to share the arts and the social aspects people miss about their communities and bring it to the wider city, which helps break barriers down.”

The Culture Bazaar is not just about overcoming barriers, it’s also about unlocking the true Carlisle community spirit of acceptance, understanding and friendship.

We promote cultural understanding and integration of the whole community.  What better way than to use music, dance, food arts and crafts to connect to people without the barrier of language?  This offers everyone the opportunity to experience the richness of world cultures from within our diverse communities.