My first experience of London’s Notting Hill Carnival

The Notting Hill Carnival has been held in London every year since 1966 and I’ve lived in London since late 1971 but never previously attended the event. This weekend, though, at the venerable age of 69 I ticked off an item on my bucket list by attending the carnival for the first time. And I loved it.

I went with friends who have been before and know the score and I took the elementary safety precautions I adopt when I travel abroad. But I felt perfectly safe and it was a wonderfully vibrant, multi-cultural atmosphere. It helped that the weather was great too.

I only attended the first day which is focused on children and I only visited for the afternoon before it became unbearably crowded. ¬†Even on children’s day, there were acres of flesh, tons of tattoos, lots of glitter, and – in the course of the processions – some simulated sexual intercourse.

The Notting Hill Carnival is the largest street festival in Europe and the second biggest carnival in the world after Rio de Janeiro. Over the two days, it attracts around one million people – predominantly young, but all shapes, sizes and colours.

There are almost 40 static sound systems and, when you’re near one, the booming, rhythmic sound seems to go through your body. There are around 300 food stalls and I enjoyed a lunch of jerk chicken followed by a can of Red Stripe Jamaican lager (I know, but when at the Notting Hill Carnival …).

I put some photos on Facebook here.


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