Notting Hill carnival is back – and it’s here to stay, say organisers

The Notting Hill Carnival It is here to stay because it means “so much to so many people”, its organizers have said ahead of the event’s return after a three-year hiatus.

Carnival chief executive Matthew Phillip said Europe’s biggest street festival, which was forced online during the pandemic, was stronger than ever, with 2 million people expected to gather and celebrate in the west. London This bank holiday weekend.

“Carnival means a lot of people going away and never coming back,” he said. “For the last two years we haven’t had a carnival, we’ve used technology to celebrate it online, but you can’t have a carnival if it’s not on the street.”

Philip said the event was a proud display of the capital’s diversity, “We are here and we are proud to be here. This is our identity.

He added: “Humans are social animals and Carnival should be the ultimate social event, especially after the last two years. It’s very rare that you see so many people from different walks of life, backgrounds, religions, enjoying and expressing themselves at ease with each other, whether they are musicians with a steel band, operating a sound system or in costume. .”

Since 1966, the street carnival in London’s Notting Hill neighborhood celebrates African-Caribbean culture and unites London’s disparate communities. And the appetite to participate in the program has not waned. This year the number of mass bands and static sound systems has increased to 84 and 38 respectively.

Mickey Dredd, whose sound system has been a fixture on Channel One since 1982, said two years of lockdown and isolation had made the carnival more important than ever.

“It’s a chance to get out and listen to music all day for free. Everyone is waiting to come back,” he said. “A lot of people have a different mentality now because of the pandemic, they’re thinking: well, I’m good to go and enjoy myself because you never know what tomorrow will bring.”

Named Channel One as a tribute to the legendary Channel One Studios in Jamaica, Dredd said he and his brother Jah T’s mission is to break down barriers in reggae music. “We entertain people, that’s what we’re in the game for. The music we play hasn’t changed. There will be a lot of new people who have never experienced Carnival before, who will no doubt discover original music by seeing us live.”

Lynette Kamala, an artist, DJ and educationist, said that the return of Carnival is of great significance. “As the largest community-led gathering of its kind on Earth, it was difficult to come together and celebrate in the way we’ve grown accustomed to,” she said.

Nicknamed the “Sound System Queen”, Kamala became one of Carnival’s first female DJs at the age of 15. Thirty-seven years later, she is the manager of the same static sound system that hosted her first performance, Disha Generation and Board. Carnival Director.

This year she created a new mural outside the Studio West gallery, celebrating the largely unknown story of Ron Laslett, a community activist and key organizer of the first Notting Hill Festival, which would evolve into Carnival.

“The return is the moment millions of Notting Hill Carnival lovers like myself, the West London community and the Caribbean community have been waiting for,” said Kamala. “I think it’s important to pay tribute to those who gifted us this incredible heritage, such as local activists Ronnie Laslett who worked in partnership with people who came from the Caribbean in the 1960s, sometimes referred to as the Windrush generation. Create a children’s parade that has grown into an event attended by millions over the years.”

Three years of work have gone into organizing this year’s event, starting with planning after Carnival in 2019. For the first time this year, the parade will be broadcast in its entirety on the event’s website and YouTube channel, while a new ramp stage will give judges a clear view of the masqueraders and costumes.

In honor of those who died in the Grenfell Tower disaster five years ago, members of the Emancipated Run crew, which aims to promote diversity in sport, will lead the parade dressed in green.

Another first is the inclusion of a fully electric truck, a first step in working with the band to look at more sustainable options for years to come. Developed by the Carnival Village Trust, the truck debuted at Glastonbury Festival in June.

Philip said: “In the future we aim to replace diesel lorries and diesel generators with new and emerging technologies such as battery power.”

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