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Carnival takes over Notting Hill

Posted on September 02 2015

LONDON: Notting Hill Carnival

THE FESTIVAL: Sounds, sights and scent

The Notting Hill Carnival- an explosion of sounds, sights and scents. For one weekend, London is transformed into a Caribbean playground come rain or shine. Indeed, as is typical for London, in spite of the event taking place in the summer, showers are often present. However, you cant rain on this parade! Like troopers the crowd is ready with rain gear or simply embraces the weather as part of the deal with many showing up in their most festive outfits.

Despite its sometimes infamous reputation, the Carnival is no more dangerous than going to a Sunday football game albeit more crowded. With over 2 million visitors, the Monday main event may be a little overwhelming and the agoraphobic can chose to enjoy the festival on Sunday, the family day. There are smaller crowds and kid-friendly floats to accommodate families.

FASHION: Street style and costumes

Body hang-ups are left behind as  the crowd moves to the thumping beats of the sound systems. The costumes get more and more fantastic with massive feather headdresses which transform their wearers into exotic birds. Fashion and function interplay with a range of looks in the fray for some serious street style (check out Eloli representing). 

 MUSIC: Sound systems

The atmosphere is infectious, the sheer joy of the dancers and the freedom flowing through their bodies  is a real testament  to the vision of the creators of the festival  as a response to the racial tension that existed in London in the 1960s. That tension has not entirely dissipated as evidenced by the London riots of 2014 however the sea of faces from so many different walks and creeds of life is a reminder that with one dance step at a time we are moving closer to a time where anyone can truly have an equal opportunity to make the best out of life without regard of their ethnic origin.

FOOD: BBQ galore

In the midst of the dancing, delicious bbq jerk chicken is served up to fuel the crowd alongside other treats from the Caribbean as well as from Africa were the Carnival finds its roots.  There are around 300 food stalls which reportedly serve five tons of chicken, 30,000 corn cobs and one ton of rice and peas. Here's a jerk chicken and rice and peas recipe if you feel like a delicious meal at home.  

VERDICT: Long live carnival

The Notting Hill has grown into a UK institution. It is one of the world's largest street festivals, attracting visitors from all over the world. It is a significant event in British culture and in 2006, the UK public voted it onto the list of icons of England. We can only hope that the city will continue to support this event which shines as a beacon of hope for a diverse UK.

As the massive cleanup begins you cant help but to look forward to next year when in spite of all its jadedness, Londons spirits never fails to be lifted up by the Notting Hill Carnival in a reminder of what makes this one of the most amazing cities in the world