The Notting Hill Carnival is a huge multicultural arts festival. It is the second largest carnival in the world after Rio de Janeiro, and about two million people attend it every year.
It started is life as a local festival set up by the West Indian community of the Notting Hill area. In the 1950s, many Caribbean immigrants to the UK went to live in the Notting Hill area of London. They missed the traditions and culture of their native countries, so they started organizing their own social events, such as dances, where they could meet and socialize freely. Some Trinidadians started playing steel-band music every Sunday at the Coleherne Pub in Earls Court. They were invited to a street festival, mainly for children, in Notting Hill in 1964. Recent immigrants and local people danced and had fun together and the event was a huge success. The Notting Hill Carnival was born!
The carnival is on August Bank Holiday weekend, which is always the last weekend of August. It used to get under way on the Saturday with the steel band competition. Sunday is Kids' Day, when the costume prizes are awarded. On Bank Holiday Monday, the main parade takes place. It starts at 11 a.m. and finishes at 9 p.m. It generally begins on Great Western Road, then winds its way along Chepstow Road, on to Westbourne Grove, and then Ladbroke Grove. In the evening, the floats leave the streets in procession, and people carry continue partying at the many Notting Hill Carnival after parties.
Another reason people go to the carnival is to try the numerous different types of food for sale on stands all round the carnival route. Of course there are traditional Caribbean dishes like “jerk chicken” but you can also try recipes from all over the world.
With many astonishing floats and the sounds of the traditional steel drum bands, scores of massive sound systems plus not forgetting the hundreds of stalls that line the streets of Notting Hill. The Notting Hill Carnival is arguably London's most exciting annual event.