Where: Ladbroke Grove, Notting Hill, London, England.
Notting Hill Carnival is the British replica of a Caribbean celebration organized by the local Caribbean society which is thriving since 1950 in the ‘Notting Hill’ region in West London. The elaborately vibrant carnival of Notting Hill has attracted around a million people in the past few years & is being reckoned as the biggest street festival in Europe. The Caribbean style parade is organized by the members of the ‘West Indian Community’ on each August Bank Holiday weekend & following Monday.
Why They Celebrate?
The carnival is an integral part of the colorful & fun-loving life of jolly Caribbeans. Its London attire made its first appearance in 1964 as a subsidiary of the Trinidad Carnival. The first jamboree was attended by around 500 people & since then, the celebration didn’t look back even once. The grandeur celebration now attracts thousands of people from around the world. Some 50,000 performers & more than 30 gigantic sound systems entertain more than 1 million attendees over the Carnival weekend.
The colorful Carnival of Notting Hill which now adorns the British cultural life, was organized in late 1950’s as a response to the weakening relationship between the races resulted from the extensive racial attacks which took place in the year 1958 for the first time ever in the history of the UK. A Trinidadian, named Claudia Jones, who was the editor of Britain’s first black newspaper ‘The West Indian Gazette’, took the initiatives to organize an indoor event with the purpose of showcasing the beauty of Caribbean Carnival culture along with their melodious Calypso & Soca music. Claudia Jones is often described as ‘the mother of Notting Hill Carnival’ as she played a vital role in promoting the cultural unity in London that resulted in lifetime settlement of the conflicting issues related with the races.
How They Celebrate?
The Notting Hill Carnival is celebrated with the elaborated exhibition of the colorful Caribbean culture & unending fun! Music & steel drums are the most important elements of the carnival similar to any traditional Caribbean fiesta. The Carnival kicks off on Saturday eve with the ‘National Panorama Competition’ wherein different steel bands lock their horns to win the prestigious title.
The Sunday is kept reserved as a Family Day which opens up with ‘Jouvert’ which is a three hour long musical saga comprising of various dances of artists donning amazing costumes & eternal steel band performances! The ecstatic opening paves a way to the ‘Children Parade’ wherein myriad young lads flaunt their spectacular colorful costumes & adorable little floats, dancing along the Carnival path to the lively beats of steel drums.
The party continues with the astounding show of the Caribbean music called ‘World Music Stage’ participated by some of the internationally renowned calypso & Soca performers as well as emerging artists of this genre in association with various other musical performances.
The last day i.e. Monday is the farewell day of this spectacular & energetic carnival. The Grand Finale is the highlight of the entire fete! The day begins with the magnificent performances of more than 60 calypso & Soca bands coming from all over the world. The roads in Notting Hill get flooded with the herds of dancers, drummers & other artists clad in the most bizarre & elaborately colorful costumes that blow up the minds of onlookers. Hundreds of food stalls offering delicious Jamaican foodstuffs like patties, jerk chicken & curries take good care of the onlookers’ appetite!
The three-mile parade of beautiful floats & the revelers donning colorful feathered costumes & Lycra suits is the real climax of this vibrant festival. 38 sound systems installed throughout the Carnival route pumps up the life & energy in the parade. The revelers get themselves soaked into the diverse genre music & stage performances which vividly underline the city’s multicultural unity. The exhibition of the amazing musical performances makes an indelible impression in the revelers mind & is considered as the most striking feature of this extravagant carnival.
This jubilant street festival is a true picture of London’s multiculturalism &it depicts London’s ‘Unity in diversity’!