A Walk Through the History of Notting Hill Carnival

Follow the carnival parade route and uncover the history of the annual celebration

By Google Arts & Culture

Notting Hill Carnival Mas (2017/2017) by AFPNotting Hill Carnival

Every year, on the late August bank holiday, Notting Hill Carnival takes over the streets of north-west London for this three day African-Caribbean event. The parade moves its way around the areas between Westbourne Park, Ladbroke Grove, and Notting Hill tube stations. Follow the route through Notting Hill and uncover the history of the carnival along the way.

Start along Ladbroke grove

Notting Hill Carnival has its origins in the carnival traditions of the Caribbean, brought over to London with the post-1948 migration of people from the Caribbean.

Turn right down Kensal Road

During the 1950s, Notting Hill (along with Brixton) had the largest population of Caribbean people in Britain.

Left onto Elkstone Road

It was community activists Rhaune Laslett and Andre Shervington who organised a street festival in 1966 that marked the beginning of Notting Hill Carnival as we know it today.

Turn down Great Western Road

The carnival aimed to bring the local Caribbean community together and well-known Trinidadian musician Russell Henderson agreed to play at the 1966 event, beginning the tradition of the steel pan procession at the event.

Along to Westbourne Park

By 1974, 100,000 people, a dozen bands, and 1,975 sound systems had become part of the festival celebration, adding Jamaican reggae, dub, and ska music to the traditional calypso and soca music played at the Carnival.

Onto Westbourne Park Road

Mas Bands are still at the heart of the Carnival parade today and these costumes go back to the emancipation of slavery in the 1800s, when enslaved Africans would mimic the entire system of masquerade and the elaborate gowns worn by their masers.

Right onto Chepstow Road

This annual celebration is still held in its original location of Notting Hill, which has become known all over the world for the Carnival event.

Right again onto Westbourne Grove

Today, almost two million carnival-goers and 40,000 volunteers attend the event from all over the world, becoming a global celebration of African-Caribbean culture. 

Finish at Ladbroke Gardens

The history of Notting Hill Carnival represents the resilience and cultural diversity of London communities, proving a space for communities to come together.

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