Let’s be honest, there are few things to enjoy more come the summer than being outside soaking up the sun, listening to live music, sampling cooked food and meeting and making friends with people from all walks of life. And, should you be in London at the end of August and looking to enjoy yourself, you can combine all these things by joining the throngs of revellers at the world-famous Notting Hill Carnival, which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary.
Not just the UK’s – but Europe’s – biggest street festival, this annual event that takes place every August Bank Holiday weekend (28th-29th August this year) sees the streets of the Notting Hill area transformed from asphalt thoroughfares into undulations of vibrant colour and blaring beats, as millions of people from all backgrounds, nations, age groups and experiences come together to enjoy music generated from huge sound systems and irresistible steelpan bands, taste richly aromatic Caribbean food and absorb the genuine down-to-earth but celebratory urban atmosphere; a showcase of London at its most welcoming and joyous.
Being primarily born out of the Trinidad and Tobagonian customs brought to the UK capital in the early 1960s, you’ll find the Notting Hill Carnival 2016 most of all embraces the Caribbean ‘mas’ (or masquerade) festival form sound-tracked by steelpan calypso music and featuring boldly bright costumed revellers, ensuring it’s at heart a colourful manifestation of the camaraderie of London’s Caribbean community. That said, over the years the celebration’s musical element has inevitably evolved, leading to a blend of Indo-Caribbean sounds; US and Jamaican-influenced chutney and soca-chutney, rapso and ragga soca, as well as traditional calypso and soca. Something for everyone – or everyone’s hips – to move to then. Especially given the fact that, as mentioned, the carnival’s always been open to everybody wherever they’re from – whether they’re locals, UK citizens or families from overseas enjoying a short-break (at the Park Grand hotel Lancaster Gate maybe?) who’ve found themselves delightedly caught up in the vibrant, weird and wonderful melee.
So, don’t doubt it, Notting Hill’s where to take your camera and your waistline come the final weekend of August; see out the British summer (rain or shine) by dipping your toe into and boogieing away to the hottest, spiciest and best rhythms the Caribbean – and beyond – has to offer!