Hat making has been an important trade in Luton since the 17th Century, with vast numbers of people employed by the industry. In 1953 an Easter Bonnet parade was held to tie in with the celebrations of the Coronation of Elizabeth II and to revitalize the hat industry after the Second World War. Female workers from the hat factories created splendid hats which they wore as they paraded in front of the judges. The winner was crowned the Hat Queen.
Today headdresses have replaced hats as an essential part of costumes in the Luton International Carnival. A top carnival designer commented that "it is not until the headdress goes on that the costume becomes complete, it is literally the crowning piece of the outfit". Explore images of fantastic hats and headdresses in our archive.