I used to attend the Nothing Hill Carnival every year and I only just found out the history of this amazing event! I guess when you are young and silly you didn’t really seek information as long as you are having a great time. Typical!
The Notting Hill Carnival can trace its roots back to Claudia Jones who organised a televised ‘Caribbean Carnival’ held indoors in Pancras Town Hall in 1959. The demand for an indoor Caribbean Carnival grew in London and was support with different partners like The West Indian Gazette. Separately a local resident and social worker Rhaune Laslett held events for local children to help ease the inter-cultural tension. During this time there was a lot of tension in the area causing violent race riots where 108 people were charged. She included the West Indian residents in her events creating a celebration of diversity and culture. In 1966 the first outdoor Nothing Hill Carnival was born!
My husband Adrian and I used to attend the carnival before we had our girls. Now many years later we thought it would be a lovely day out for us as a family and to show girls how diverse London is.
On the bus, as we approached Notting Hill Gate we could see people walking towards Portobello Road. When we got off the bus we heard whistleblowing, children with faces painted and ladies with jems & glitters nicely decorated on their faces too! We excitedly followed the crowd while Adrian and I reminisced about our youth! Haha! It all started flowing back and happy times at that. He defo secured a whine back in the days! We remembered following a float and just danced our day away. Mind you, he is not a dancer but he knows I love dancing, he enjoys everything else around Carnival but not the dancing bit.
We followed the crowd to Portobello Road then to Ladbroke Grove where we passed what used to be a club where we used to go to but now is a Sainsbury’s supermarket! Times have definitely changed…
The girls were very excited to see the parade, while we walked around we could see the participants getting ready with their colourful costumes and floats with the speakers blasting, testing their music which made the atmosphere exciting. Unfortunately this year the family day was a little wet…actually it was very wet! When we arrived it wasn’t raining then 20 minutes later it started to drizzle until it really poured down. We decided to go under the bridge away from the rain, it seemed that everyone had the same idea. We watched the parade from there. We enjoyed watching the colourful costumes as the dancers walked and danced passed us. The music was blasting very loudly as it went passed us, I didn’t mind, I loved it and I danced a long too! My girls wasn’t so sure what to do, I encouraged them to dance too which they did. I think they were in awe of the children’s costumes, the crowd and the music that they didn’t what to do, which was to be expected. I loved seeing their faces as they watched the parade pass us, as a parent this is a great way to introduce and experience different cultures to my children. Of course we kept it PG! haha!
My tribe got a little hungry so we ventured to look for food, at this time it was only drizzling as we went around. We were looking for a stall where we could get some Jerk chicken with Rice & Peas. There were plenty of food places to choose from! There were other cuisines too, some fusion and places to get some drinks, we even found a couple of Filipino food stalls. After walking around we knew what we wanted to eat, by this time the rain started pouring…that’s a typical London summer and our luck too!
Adrian bought some Beef Patty to whet our appetite, we really enjoyed it even though it was a little spicy but it was tasty, even my youngest liked it even though she doesn’t like chili at all. Moving on we found a food stall that sold boneless jerk chicken. On a normal day I would always opt for meat on the bone but since it’s raining and we were already soaking wet, we bought some boneless jerk chicken with rice & peas with gravy. It was delicious! Though we had to go home to eat our food. It was raining so much, we were soaking wet through and through. I really wanted to get some dessert too but we were cold and I didn’t want the girls to get sick. It’s shame as I wanted to get dessert too!
We had a great time despite the weather. We will definitely go back again next year and be more prepared this time. It was a great day out for the family, the parade was on point and there was lots of food to choose from. Oh lastly there was plenty of portable loos, that’s always helpful! As we walked away from the Carnival we saw the area for children’s activity which would have been great for my girls but at least we know where it is now for next time!