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50 things you didn't know about Notting Hill Carnival

Here are 50 facts you might not know about Europe's biggest street party

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© Guillaume Capron

There are up to 2 million attendees at Carnival every year, plus 40,000 volunteers and 9,000 police.

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© Mike T

That means that Carnival is as big as 11 Glastonbury festivals.

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© Alan Myers

It’s the second largest carnival in the world, just behind Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro…

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© Eduardo

…and the largest street festival in Europe.

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© David Tett

Carnival contributes around £93 million to London’s economy. Policing costs just £6 million.

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© David Tett

Tourists only make up about 20 percent of the Carnival crowd.

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© David Tett

The carnival tradition has its distant roots in the eighteenth-century Trinidadian Canboulay processions, back in the dark days before Red Stripe.

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© David Tett

There are five different aspects of carnival: masquerade, soundsystems, steel pan bands, calypso and and soca.

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© David Tett

There are around 40 static soundsystems, ten steel pan bands and 70 performing stages.

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© David Tett

The costume troupes are known as ‘Mas bands’ – ‘Mas’ meaning masquerade.

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© David Tett

Anything between 80 and 300 people take part in each Mas costume band.

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© David Tett

Early Mas costumes at Carnival were inspired by West African mythology, and were more scary than sexy.

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‘Mas camps’ work on Carnival costumes, and are busy all year round to prepare for Carnival.

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© David Tett

Mas camps use top Trinidadian designers and craftspeople to design and create each themed costume.

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© David Tett

There are around 15,000 costumes on display every year…

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© Valters Krontals

…and every single costume is made by hand. It takes 1 million man-hours to make and decorate them all.

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Around 30 million sequins, 15,000 feather plumes and 30 litres of body paint get used.

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© Bill

On Sunday, it's a tradition among some carnivalgoers to slap anyone in the vicinity with a handful of melted chocolate.

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© John Wright

Every year the Grenadian Shortknee band take part in the parade in their traditional short breeches.

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© DavideGorla

Moko jumbie stilt walkers are another famous sight, as is the sinister Devil Mas.

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© Valters Krontals

Monday is the rowdiest day of Carnival, with Sunday kept a bit more child-friendly.

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© David Tett

The main parade on Monday starts at 10am, and the route is 3.5 miles long.

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© David Tett

There are around 300 food stalls on the streets, which serve five tons of chicken, 30,000 corn cobs and one ton of rice and peas.

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© S PAKHRIN

Five million hot and cold drinks are served, including 25,000 bottles of rum and 70,000 litres of carrot juice.

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© Aleksandra Petrova

Reassuringly, stallholders need to attend a stringent two-hour health and safety course to get a licence.

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© David Tett

Over 16,000 different records are played across the weekend.

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Carnival warm-up and after parties take place across the city from Thursday right through until Monday night.

See this year's Carnival warm-up and after parties

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© Jeff Van Campen

The annual Panorama steel band competition has taken place on bank holiday Saturday every year since 1978 – head to Horniman's Pleasance Park to catch it.

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© David Tett

The first Carnival events were arranged as a demonstration of racial unity after the Notting Hill Race Riots of 1958.

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© Wikipedia

Another important influence was the unsolved murder of Kelso Cochrane, a young black Londoner, on Golborne Road in 1959.

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© David Tett

An early (indoor) precursor to Carnival was organised in King's Cross in 1959 by the American campaigner Claudia Jones.

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© Valters Krontals

Rhaune Laslett organised the Notting Hill Children’s Neighbourhood Festival in 1964, which included steel bands.

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© Mike T

This was then followed by the first proper outdoor street party in Notting Hill in 1966, also organised by Laslett.

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© David Tett

Amazingly, Laslett's Notting Hill Festival was inspired by a dream she had about people of different races dancing in the streets together.

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© David Tett

The 1966 festival included participants from Ireland, India, Cyprus and elsewhere, as well as a Trinidadian steel band.

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© bestoftrinidad.com

Russ Henderson's steel band, the first Caribbean participants, went for an unscheduled walkabout which turned into the first Carnival parade.

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Legendary rock band Pink Floyd also played one of their first gigs as part of the original festival.

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© Charlie Marshall

After the 1966 festival, Caribbean participation increased and turned the annual event into a Trinidadian-style carnival.

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© Valters Krontals

Time Out played a part in Carnival's history, when it ran advertising for a public meeting to save the event in 1973.

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© Cristiano Betta

The 1973 Carnival was the first one with a scheduled parade route; before then musicians took their own route through the streets.

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© Cristiano Betta

Popular radio broadcasts between 1973 and 1975 established Carnival as a national event, and in 1976 over half a million people attended.

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The first major riots at the carnival, in 1976, inspired Joe Strummer of The Clash to write ‘White Riot’.

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© Pennie Smith

In 2011, Blur planned to release a single to help save the Carnival when the London riots put the event in doubt.

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© Dan Marsh

Another high-profile supporter is Prince Charles, who spoke in favour of Carnival in the 1970s.

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© Mike T

There were five deaths at Carnival between 1987 and 2000. Compare that to 155 deaths during 2014's Rio Carnaval alone.

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© Valters Krontals

On 2013's Carnival Monday, 279 people were arrested: that's about 0.03 per cent of all Carnivalgoers.

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© Fabio Venni

Despite its reputation, Carnival has a relatively low crime rate for an event of its size: ‘no worse than at any Saturday football match,’ according to the Met.

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© Valters Krontals

As well as performing, many Carnival bands operate year-round as social enterprises working with disadvantaged young people.

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© Channel 1

Over 8,500 people have signed a petition to keep Channel One Soundsystem at this year’s Carnival.

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A video of policemen skanking at last year's Carnival has almost 700,000 YouTube views.

Watch the video here

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