The one thing that matters about The Notting Hill Carnival
Carnival is nigh. 3 days it’s all it takes to finally welcome the Notting Hill Carnival in London. We were waiting a whole year to get back in the streets and enjoy the spirit of unity which overwhelms every August Bank holiday by celebrating Caribbean Culture, artistic talents and creativity, and embraces the cultural diversity of London.
This year the hashtag #NHCisME is everywhere to be found. The voices of those within the Carnival Community are spreading their messages of love and excitement. Because it is you, the people who matter the most and who are the reason to celebrate such an event of appreciation, sharing, reception and love.
Carnival Love Trumps Hate
A week ago, we came across an article with the bold name – Carnival Love Trumps Hate and we adopted it since we long struggled for words to say it better. The story behind this statement is full of hatred, racism, riots and blood.
Today, Notting Hill Carnival may be the largest street party in Europe, with 2 million visitors each year and over 70 masquerade floats but when it all started, things weren’t easy for the workers from the Caribbean islands, which came to the UK to find nourishment and home after the ruination of the Second World War.
It all began with the arrival of close to 500 migrants from the Caribbean on the now emblematic SS Empire Windrush in 1948. They arrived with hope for a new, better life, but fitting in wasn’t easy. They experienced discrimination and sometimes open hatred. In 1958 during the Notting Hill riots, right-wing extremists got in open confrontation with Caribbean migrants, encouraged by the infamous Sir Oswald Mosely, who used to hold meetings in the streets urging people to
Keep Britain White.
The efforts to bridge the cultural gap between the communities gave life to the Notting Hill carnival. Claudia Jones, known as
the mother of the Notting Hill Carnival, was a Trinidadian political activist. She was the woman behind the first event, which took place on January 30, 1959, at St Pancras Town Hall, just 5 months after the riots.
For the first time in years, migrants and their children could take it to the streets and feel free to express who they were in a whirlwind of colour, music, flamboyant dress and love. It was the first time when the people from so many different Caribbean islands were able to come together as a community.
A few years later, Rhaune Laslett - another woman, who cared deeply for the community and its diversity - was busy organising the first outdoor event in 1965, which became the annual outdoor Notting Hill Carnival, we know today.
To turn this page, we’d like to share The Guardian’s
Letter of Love dedicated to this year’s Notting Hill Carnival.
Planning your weekend at Notting Hill Carnival
Europe's biggest street festival and the largest community-led event in the world is organized by Notting Hill Carnival Limited and supported by the Mayor of London. There’s so much going on at this August bank holiday and here’s what you have to remember.
Notting Hill Carnival starts at 6am on Saturday 24 and ends at 10pm on Monday 26, and it’s totally free. As you know, The Notting Hill Carnival line-up is not usually announced until the very start of the carnival, but you’ll certainly find plenty of music and entertainment throughout the weekend.
On Saturday 24th you can attend the world-famous steel pan orchestra competition - The Panorama, at Emslie Horniman Pleasance Park between 7.00pm and 10.00pm.
Sunday 25th is the perfect opportunity to bring everyone together on J'ouvert & Notting Hill Carnival Family Day. If you want to experience the traditional Caribbean carnival opening, J’ouvert, you should get up early. You can watch or join the march through the streets, covered in mud and coloured powder, to the sounds of African drums and rhythm bands between 6 am and 9 am. The procession starts and ends at Canal Way.
Traditionally, the carnival for children is held on Sunday during the Children Parade, which takes over from 10 am and continues well into the evening. Be ready to find yourself covered in paint, chocolate or powder by the joyful bunch of revellers in order to celebrate an ancient Caribbean tradition. You can as well head up to Emslie Horniman Pleasance Park to attend some of the numerous family workshops.
On both Sunday and Monday you can enjoy the music blast, coming from over 30 sound systems, located alongside the streets of west London, filled with Caribbean colours, music and flavours. You can as well head up straight to one of the three life stages - Horniman’s Stage, Powis Square Stage, and Meanwhile Gardens.
Monday is the last day of NHC or The Grand Finale and it’s Monday Parade. Starting at 10.00am prompt, the bands, floats and mobile sound systems make their way through the streets, following the Carnival route in the Grand Finale. You can rejoin the illustrious Adult Parade(short for masquerade bands) float with colourful dancers, performers and steel bands to showcase their extravagant, outrageous costumes, inspired by African tradition from 12 pm.
Basically the NHC is what brought
Spice, sunshine and bassline in London and to commemorate that, we’ve gathered this special Carnival inspired playlist for you to get in the right vibe before you head up straight to the streets of Notting Hill.
You can also get lost in the sound, while swaying to a samba beat, with a number of Brazilian bands joining the carnival each year. It’s time to let your hair down and dance the weekend away.
And Remember to go prepared!
How to stand out at The Notting Hill Carnival
The Mayor of London said that we must be prepared and we totally agree but we’ll spare you the safety details and the well-known routes of the railways, so you can head up straight to your signature look instead.
First thing’s first – let’s see if the weather will be on your side during this Bank Holiday. It seems like the horrifying #Heatwave is finally paying off, since the weather this weekend will be tremendous. Sunny but not like Sahara sunny, just the right amount of partly cloudy – enough to keep you from the heat but with no chance of rain. We can all enjoy a day outside with temperatures around 25 degrees, don’t we?!
Now back to the question – What to wear to The Notting Hill Carnival? There’s no need to tell you to be bold, bright, colourful and literally all smiles but still, we’re here to give you some extra fashion advice.
When it comes to The Notting Hill Carnival you definitely have to stand out but still the comfort comes first, after all, you’re about to spend numerous of hours right on the street while dancing to Caribbean beats and enjoying the vibrant atmosphere, which includes millions of other visitors.
So stick to the proven in time brightly coloured co-ord. For those of you that still feel confused about the meaning of this term, it simply means a set of matching tops (outerwear or blouses) and bottoms (pants or skirts) and comes from the word coordinates. Pick vibrant colours, lightweight fabric, fashionable flower prints, and avoid anything synthetic at all costs.
If you're not a fan of the co-ord, then stick to a pair of denim shorts, paired with a boho off-the-shoulder top or bold crop, you could also go for a brightly coloured swimwear or underwear under any kind of dark mesh, as well as a baseball shirt, or dungarees and you're all set. Add a vintage feel or an eclectic choice of colours to your look in order to put a little something to your carnival vibe.
Stick to sensible bags.
Remember that with all the bumping and grinding, there will be zero room for handbags. On top of that, your hands need to be free to help you show some outstanding dance moves. So we’re giving a big thumbs up to bum bags worn across the body, which are the perfect choice for a street party. They're small, compact and easy to carry or in other words – just the thing you need to keep your essentials safe. Those should mandatorily include tissues, hand sanitizer, wet-wipes, a bottle of water, sunscreen, sunglasses, and a carnival map.
This shoes are made for walking
and that should be the only thing that matters. The Notting Hill Carnival spreads throughout almost the whole West London, which means a lot of walking and a lot of dancing. Do not, under any circumstances, wear sandals or heels or anything with an open toe, no matter how cute it may look. You don’t want the river of Red Stripe and dozens of other unidentified liquids to be anywhere near your feet.
Be sensible and wear a pair of trainers. Just don’t pick a pair of white ones – this won’t end up well by numerous reasons.
When it comes to our everyday outfit - less is more, but if you’re heading to the NHC you should totally forget that you’ve ever heard about this fashion rule.
Attendees are encouraged to wear accessories to show their support and love for the Notting Hill Carnival like whistles, crazy styled hats, large jewellery, and whatever suits your taste. Glitter and face paint are strongly emboldened and you can as well decorate your face and body with dazzling gems or just an outstanding nail-art for the modest ones - the Carnival is all about being extra – so now is your chance to be bold and extravagant for once.
Remember that sunglasses are an absolute must. Ear Hooks may come in handy if you don't want to risk losing them when you're dancing on the stage.
And because we’re so cool, here’s a tutorial on how to make your very own Festival Bra, without spending a fortune. It’s all about using a little imagination and a bit of feather, pearls, flowers, sparkles and whatever works for you.
There you have it; the absolute essentials to ensure you’ll have the time of your life during the so long-awaited carnival weekend. And last but not least – Have Fun & Don’t forget to Drink Plenty of Water.
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Before you go, don’t forget to tell us why NHC is You in the comment section below. We’re eager to hear your stories because it is the people who make Notting Hill Carnival so special and dear to our hearts. All that’s left to say is - Happy NHC 2019 to each and every one of you! We'll see you on