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Notting Hill Carnival

21st August 2013 | Posted in Festivals by H. Simpson
Notting Hill Carnival is held each August bank holiday. The festival takes place on the streets and was formed by Afro-Caribbean communities to celebrate their culture and traditions. Now, 50 years later, people from all ethnic backgrounds join in to celebrate the largest street festival in Europe. Its estimated that over one million people will be attending the carnival this weekend. Every aspect of the carnival is Caribbean incorporated, unlike other traditional British festivals that try and have something for everyone, this carnival stands for itself. Caribbean music, food and parade, no English input which I personally think is a good thing and is tradition at its best. Three major senses are needed for this carnival; sight, smell and sound...


A big part of the festival is the music. Soca and Calypso music and static sound systems play the biggest part in the festival, in particular the steel drum bands. The Calypso started when the African slaves were forbidden to talk to each other and so this was formed as a means of communication between each other and to mock the slave masters whereas Soca was formally used as a way of expressing sexuality. There are over 40 sound systems throughout the streets of the carnival so sound is very important. Live stages have seen the likes of Eddie Grant, Jamiroquai and Wyclef Jean perform as well as small local bands. The Saturday is when the steel band competition takes place whereas the Sunday is the most child friendly day.


Caribbean food is a major part of the festival, especially chicken. The food carries a distinctive smell throughout the carnival, one of spices and meat. This is in fact where Levi roots first started selling his famous 'Reggae Reggae' sauce which is now worth over £30 million so it just shows how a small stall selling a spicy sauce can go a long way. Other traditional food you'll find on the stalls are curried goat, fried plantain, rice and peas and run punch. These foods are usually incorporated into traditional recipes by men and women that have been handed down to each of their families.


The main parade is on the Monday which goes from Great Western Road to Ladbroke Grove and is approximately three miles long. As you can imagine this is full of colour, vibrancy and life. The costumes are OTT, big and bold and one of the best parts of the carnival. Expect extravagance and floats of colour and celebration. Apparently, there are over 30 million sequins that are sewed onto the costumes, 15,000 feather plumes and 30 litres of decorative body paints. You can definitely say that there is nothing else quite like this in the UK. You can even download a Notting Hill Carnival app that can tell you where about's you are and where about's your favourite music and food is and even where the toilets are situated!

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