I have just returned from a day at the Notting Hill Carnival. And what a day it was – full of music, colour, dance and laughter. Here it is, in pictures.
The main parade winds slowly through the streets, the floats followed by dancers in spectacular costumes twirling, shaking, stamping.
More than a million people throng the usually quiet streets of West London, turning the area into a giant, two-day-long party.
Music is a big part of the Carnival and sounds of calypso, soca and reggae soon have the spectators dancing as well. Caribbean steel bands follow in a frenzy of drumming and drumbeats.
Local residents make themselves comfortable on sunny balconies overlooking the parade route, and hold their own mini parties as they watch the giant one on the streets below.
Food stalls line the streets, selling traditional Caribbean fare – jerk chicken, rice and peas, corn on the cob, sugarcane, green coconut water, rum punch.
As the day progressed, so did the happiness level of the crowd – helped along by beer and grass. Alcohol and cannabis were the staples of the day, much as they used to be in the college festivals of my youth! Beer cans littered the streets, and the strong, sweet, acrid smell of grass filled the air.
And for those who want facts:The Notting Hill Carnival was started in 1966. It began as a local festival for West Indian immigrants, but is now a full-fledged Caribbean Carnival. It is held each August Bank Holiday, usually the last weekend in August. Sunday is usually Children’s Day, with a Children’s Parade, which is quieter and less crowded. Monday is the Main Parade, which attracts more than a million visitors. It is London’s most spectacular, most diverse event, and the largest street festival in Europe.