For many Londoners the Notting Hill Carnival is as significant Christmas, if not more so. The yearly parade celebrates everything that is great about our vibrant and diverse city, celebrating cultural unity with an attendance of nearly 2 million people.
The first organized event took place in 1966 and now, 53 years later, it is the second largest carnival in the world. However, the revelry should not just be taken at the face value of bright feathers and steel pans. The community-led event generates over 100 million for London’s economy every year, but even more crucially brings neighbors together when confronting hardship and adversity. The Grenfell tragedy remains very much at the heart of the festival, proving to be an emblem of how the area can amalgamate and continue to flourish.
As well as this, the Windrush-generation have had and continue to have a huge influence on the carnival. The recent Windrush scandal provides further motivation to stand in solidarity against division and malfeasance.
Evidence for the carnival’s success can be found not only in the number of attendees, but also in the flurry of colossal companies it is attracting. For 2019, Adidas are the ‘Official Footwear Partner’ and will provide shoes for all the volunteers. The spectacle clearly resonates with so many and emits an optimism that businesses are eager to be in allegiance with.
On display at the official launch were the five arts arena of the carnival: Mas bands, Steel bands, Calypsonians, Mobile Sound Systems and Static Sound Systems. Each discipline is performed at the highest standard, producing grooves that make the body furor.
However, children and family are also very much a focal point of the festival. In fact, the first day of the carnival weekend is coined ‘Children’s Day’, where youth club members and schoolchildren perform dances they have been rehearsing in anticipation for many months.
The organisers have this year launched the #NHCIsMe campaign in order to introduce the world to the community and artistry of the Europe’s biggest street even. Veterans of the carnival, who have been brought up amongst its development, tell their personal and unique stories which help to convey the passion it evokes and the making of its legacy.
The carnival provides a lens to London and British culture as a whole. The synthesis of tradition and modernity make the spectacle truly exhilarating and uplifting. If the launch is anything to go by, this could be the best carnival yet.
By Lewis Andrews
Photo Credit: Josh Daniels