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Visit Notting Hill Carnival

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Notting Hill Carnival is famous throughout the world as a loud, vibrant and exciting festival, celebrating diversity in the heart of London.

Since 1966, every August Bank Holiday weekend the carnival brings life to the streets of London's West End, as more than 40 static sound systems and 20 miles of colourful costumes entertain visitors, who are tucking into food from the hundreds of Caribbean stalls.

More than 40,000 volunteers make the festival possible - and over one million people come to the carnival each year enjoying a lively day out.

The festival was set up as a local event by the West Indian community of the Notting Hill area as a small gathering of 500 people.

The area was a topical one as in the 1950s it was marked with racial tensions, as fascist groups campaigned for disaffected residents to Keep Britain White. In 1958 as many as 400 Teddy Boys attacked the houses of West Indian residents.

The festival was introduced as a way of building relations between residents and the West Indian community and as a way for the latter to feel proud of their heritage.

Since then it has grown to be a Caribbean carnival which attracts visitors from all over the globe of a wide variety of backgrounds and ethnicities - it is definitely not a festival exclusively for Caribbean people.

Elaborately decorated floats are a big part of the celebrations, while steel drum bands and hundreds of craft stalls are also part of the entertainment.

Music plays a huge role in the celebrations and visitors can expect to hear Soca & Calypso Music, Reggae, R&B, Funk, House, Dub and much more. There are live stages, which showcase local talent, and in recent years international acts have leant their names to the cause.

Big name acts to appear at the festival include Eddie Grant, Jamiroquai, Wyclef Jean, Courtney Pine and Burning Spear.

The festival normally begins on the Saturday with a steel band competition and then Sunday is kids' day, with costume prizes awarded. Then on Bank Holiday Monday the main parade takes place, beginning on Great Western Road, moving along to Chepstow Road and finishing up at Ladbroke Grove.

Parties then continue into the small hours as the festival draws to a close.

For those who decide to visit, the most important thing to bear in mind is the festival's motto: "Every spectator is a participant - carnival is for all who dare to participate."

 

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