It is that time of the year again. In London, and at a loose end? Let´s go to the carnival!
The Notting Hill Carnival is one of those events that no visitor should miss. It is marketed as the biggest street party in the world after Rio. So, why not paying a visit?
The whole affair is full of contrasts. It has been held in London all the Bank Holiday weekends since 1964 to celebrate the West Indian culture. It is led particularly by the ´Trinis´, many of whom have populated the area since the 1950´s.
Hold on. West-Indians? What about the posh, white Notting Hill that I saw in that movie? Well, Hugh Grant´s posh, white-washed Notting Hill is only a thing of the recent past, and it´s partly fictitious. That is, much in the same way as West Hampstead didn´t use to be what it is today, and what Kilburn may become soon. Working class Spanish, Portuguese and then West Indians came to this area to help build the Central Line tube. The area became progressively posh about 15 years ago.
It is such an explosion of colour. On both the Sunday and Monday, there is a parade that runs during the afternoon and early evening formed by groups of people dressed up in well-crafted, non-boring, bright-coloured clothes dancing to the music of steel bands and – in lorries. Yes, lorries. For most of us who come from countries where carnival is celebrated much in the same way as in Brazil, it comes as a surprise that they should also use lorries with huge sound systems and hip-hop singers.
Despite that, there are huge crowds to see the parades and dance in the few sound systems dotted in the area. Another option: eat that lovely jerk chicken and plantain. Yummy! Some of the stalls in the fair are actually quite well-known.
Another aspect that I find particularly interesting is the tight security. Police officers on foot and on horse guard the area almost in a military way. First time goers might think `what??´ Apparently, the event has been on the verge of being cancelled a few times, due to the high crime rate. Last year´s event was a success in this respect. But, this year´s event was about to be cancelled in any way, in light of the recent lootings.
You know what, though? I have so many pix with those ´horrible´ police officers. They are usually quick to suggest taking a picture of a group of revellers or to appear in it with them!! Always that big smile – it must be hard working when everyone else is having a good time. No, that lady in the picture on the right is not me, LoL.
Yes, pubs are also open too.
See you there?
A Londoner from Afar