Photo Credit: Glodi Miessi
The Notting Hill Carnival In London Returns In-Person After Two Year Hiatus
London isn’t exactly known for its hot weather, and that’s putting it charitably. But the revelers at The Notting Hill Carnival have infused the gloomy English capital with island vibes for years. The carnival was virtual in 2020 and 2021, but that couldn’t emulate the in-person experience.
The 2022 event will take place the last weekend of August and the Bank Holiday that Monday.
According to Visit London, “the carnival usually takes place on the streets of Notting Hill, Ladbroke Grove, Westbourne Grove and Kensal Road.”
Grab your costume, some comfortable shoes and your camera for what is absolutely a cornerstone of Black-British culture. The Notting Hill Carnival, like other parades returning this year, intends to make up for lost time. There are three main things to remember. Watch your belongings, be aware of your surroundings and have fun. Actually, there’s a fourth. Bring an umbrella if the sky opens up, and sunblock if it doesn’t.
This carnival is the largest and most electrifying in Europe. It came about as a response to the struggles of Caribbean immigrants living in London years ago. Activist Claudia Jones, who moved to England from Trinidad, was the founder of what was then called The Caribbean Carnival. It was broadcast on the BBC in 1959, and took place at St. Pancras Town Hall. Though jolly, it was conservative by present standards and nobody knew how much it would transform with time.
As noted by The Guardian, “the first official carnival started in 1964 as a fairly low-key event, with just a few hundred people. By 1968, crowds increased dramatically and people filled the streets of West London.” In the 1970s, organizers played island music from large speakers, which attracted an even bigger following. From there, the carnival continued to snowball at breakneck speed.
Earlier this year, organizers announced the Mas Bands on Instagram, and what a list it is! In addition to the music and dancing, street vendors will serve up the best in Caribbean cuisine. If you’ve never tried jerk chicken or festivals in a party environment, there’s no better chance to live your best life. Your ears will ring with the sound of steel drums and every kind of island music, from Reggae to Soca.
There’s a good chance you’ll hear Palance, a classic that always gets the crowd jumping from one side to the other. And like just about all Caribbean-style events, you’ll see masqueraders wearing sequins, feathers and frankly, not much else.
You can be a spectator for free or pay to dance along the parade route. Secret London mentions that “the bands sell ticket packages each year, so look out for their individual announcements and launches.” Download The Notting Hill Carnival app to keep up to date on the parade and the after parties.
If you’d like accommodations in the area, consider booking your hotel or Airbnb in advance, as they will likely sell out in record time.