Notting Hill Carnival. A brief history

A BRIEF HISTORY OF NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL

by Nadia Valeri

Notting Hill Carnival takes place in London over the Sunday and Monday of the Summer Bank Holiday weekend in August and is billed as the second largest street festival in the world after Rio De Janeiro Carnival in Brazil, with an estimated 1.5 million visitors attending over the two days

In 2014 the party promises to be even bigger and better than ever before as Notting Hill Carnival celebrates its 50th year

London’s first ever Caribbean Carnival took place in January 1959, it was held indoors at St Pancras Town Hall and was televised by the BBC

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The event was organised by Trinidadian born journalist and political activist, Claudia Jones who in response to the Notting Hill race riots the previous year wanted to put on display for the British that unique Caribbean joy and culture by uniting immigrants from the West Indies with a Carnival

The first Carnival was a huge success and these indoor events continued until Claudia Jones (widely recognised as the ‘Mother of Carnival’) passed away in 1964

At this time a well respected community worker living in Notting Hill, Rhuane Laslett was planning to reintroduce the Notting Hill Fayre – a once traditional English fete reinvented in order to bring together the very diverse community living in the area

nhc6Her aim was to unite the local population struggling with racism, high unemployment and slum-like living conditions

She invited steel pan players to perform at the event and what started as a street party for local children turned into a Carnival parade when the steel band went on a road march through the streets, in that moment Notting Hill Carnival as we know it today was born

The Carnival has evolved to include static stages and sound systems scattered throughout the area within the parade route, offering up a wide variety of music but in essence it is still very true to it’s roots – a celebration of Caribbean culture influenced by the cosmopolitan nature of modern London

Notting Hill Carnival is an an explosion of food, drink, music, dance and masquerade, it is a very unique Carnival unlike any other in the world

 

Thanks to the Dailymail.co.uk for the great images

 

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