Nottinghill Carnival: The UK’s Largest Street Party

The Nottinghill Carnival is one of Europe’s largest street parties that usually takes place in London at the end of August every year. Unfortunately, like every other event that was due to take place in 2020, Nottinghill Carnival has been cancelled for the first time ever. But the show must go on, so, the street party is set up to go digital with a variety of videos and music to be streamed online from 29th to 30th August. To join in with the celebrations, we’re sharing a little bit about the history of the world-renowned Nottinghill Carnival. 

The History of Nottinghill Carnival

The origins of Nottinghill Carnival can be traced back to the mid 1960s when a ‘Caribbean Carnival’ took place indoors at St Pancras Town Hall. The event was an annual showcase for Caribbean talent and was was organised by a woman named Claudia Jones, who is often referred to as the ‘Mother of Caribbean Carnival in Britain’. Born in Trinidad, Claudia Jones moved to the UK in 1955 and became heavily involved in the British African-Caribbean community and the movement for equal rights.

Prior to the event that took place in St Pancras Town Hall, a series of race riots took place in Nottinghill when a white working-class group known as ‘Teddy Boys’ started to show hostility towards black families in the area. It’s thought that the race riots partly influenced the ‘Caribbean Carnival’ event.

Then, in 1966, inspired by Jones’ event, another woman and community activist named Rhaune Laslett organised a traditional British fete which was then known as the Nottinghill Fayre. The week-long event aimed to celebrate Nottinghill’s diversity and included pageants, food vendors, music and a parade. We now know this event as the Nottinghill Carnival. 

What Happens at the Carnival? 

Nottinghill Carnival has always been a colourful and musical celebration ever since it first took place in 1966. Every year there are live performances from over 100 performers, food and drink street vendors, sound systems and of course, the huge parades that take place on the Sunday and Monday. The parade is made up of Mas Bands, Brazilian Bands and Steelbands and everyone who takes part is dressed in flamboyant colourful costumes that are made up of feathers and gems. 

The Carnival’s Impact

Two and a half million people join in with the Nottinghill Carnival celebrations each year and it’s second only to Brazil’s Rio Carnival in size. Despite being such a large event, Nottinghill Carnival is still very much led by the community and plays a very important part in people’s lives today. 

Nottinghill Carnival 2020

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Nottinghill Carnival has unfortunately been cancelled this year for the first time in 54 years. Nonetheless, the Carnival’s organisers understand that this is a key celebration of multiculturalism in the UK, so a series of free livestreamed events will take place over three days. The digital festival will feature performances, talks and films with a focus on food, dance, music and culture. You can register to enjoy Nottinghill Carnival from the comfort of your own home here.

Check out our English Arts and Culture package that includes world-class museums, contemporary galleries and breathtaking sculptures, to name a few. If you are particularly interested in visiting London during the Nottinghill Carnival in 2021, we can customise this package to suit you. Get in contact with us today if you are interested. 

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