Every summer the Notting HillCarnival is held in London on the Sunday and Monday of the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of August. It is a Caribbean festival of brightly coloured costumes, loud music and dodgy food, attended by upwards of a million visitors each year. I took these photos at the 2006 festival, but it has been similar on other years too. As it happens I didn’t get many images of the floats on this occasion, but I’m sure you get the idea: think Mardi Gras (as in Rio), but more Caribbean in flavour and more British amateurism too, and you won’t be far off.
In the 1950′s, people from the Caribbean islands were encouraged to come to Britain to find jobs, as the country was short of workers at the time (the exact opposite of the current situation). The majority of these people settled in London and currently we are entering the third generation. You don’t have to be of Caribbean origin to take part, of course: although the festival has its origin in the West Indies, it is basically a celebration and anyone who lives in the area can contribute. Usually, Sunday is designated “Children’s Day” and the local children get to dress up and dance. Often, they help to make their costumes as well.
The crowds near Westbourne Grove can be tremendous. If you’re lucky, you might glimpse a float in the distance somewhere over the heads of the people.
Children getting ready for the carnival.
Children in colourful costumes near the start of the Notting Hill Carnival procession.
Children’s Day at the Notting Hill Carnival 2006. Guyana, with Ghana following behind.
Girls in red, green and gold dancing at the Notting Hill Carnival.
Girls dancing for Britain at the Notting Hill Carnival 2006.
A contemplative look with this giant costume depicting the continents in green.
How to move a steel band around at the Notting Hill Carnival: use a tractor!
Need a mobile band? Use a huge truck!
Imagine dancing for several hours carrying this beautiful gold and white costume!
As well as the main procession, there were static events and musicians at the Carnival.
This group is depicting ‘creation’. All the costumes are home-made.
If you fancy some Caribbean food, the Notting Hill Carnival is the place to try it: curry goat, rice and peas, Jamaican patty, Jerk Chicken… it’s all here.
The entire carnival area is packed with people as around a million people typically visit the Notting Hill Carnival each year. Here you can see the crowds near the Harrow Road end of the processional route.
Elaborate red, black and gold costumes at the 2006 Notting Hill Carnival.
Nigeria’s entry on Children’s Day at the 2006 Notting Hill Carnival.
Adjusting a Sunshiny Africa costume at the Notting Hill Carnival