Earlier this month, the organisers of Notting Hill Carnival announced that the event would not be taking place on the streets this August bank holiday due to ‘the ongoing uncertainty and risk Covid-19 poses’. It was disappointing for Londoners to hear that Carnival as we know it would not be going ahead for the second year in a row, but it turns out that phrase ‘on the streets’ was key.
Last night it was announced that Notting Hill Carnival will have a presence in London this August, but will take the form of a series of ticketed events designed to raise money for the Carnival Trust. The Notting Hill Carnival Recovery Fund will also be supported by the sale of a hardback coffee-table book that sets the record straight on the rich history of the event, ‘Carnival: a Photographic and Testimonial History of the Notting Hill Carnival’ edited by Ishmahil Blagrove Jr with a preface by Margaret Busby.
The ticketed events for Carnival Culture in the Park will cost £10, and will involve three days worth of shows across August 19, 20 and 21, held in the open-air setting of Opera Holland Park. So far the performances are split into Classic Calypso (which includes artists such as Giselle Carter and G String), Pan in the Park (with legendary UK steel bands Mangrove and Ebony) and Pan Jazz (featuring the Engine Room Collective).
The idea of a ticketed Carnival is likely to make a lot of people nervous. Over the years, there have been various proposals to move Notting Hill Carnival to Hyde Park, and speculation that its format could change to become a paying event, all of which was opposed by the Carnival community, and for good reason. The event is designed to take place on the street, to create something vibrant, free and accessible to all. The organisers are mindful of this fact, and Matthew Phillip, CEO of Notting Hill Carnival Ltd stressed that: ‘This series of events and the book play an extremely important role in supporting the bands and participants of Notting Hill Carnival, raising vital financial support to bring Carnival back on the road in 2022 and beyond... Notting Hill Carnival belongs on the streets, but the Covid pandemic presented too much uncertainty to plan for a safe event over the August bank holiday weekend.’
For those who can’t fork out for a ticket, or just want to drink in as much Carnival atmosphere as humanly possible, there will be free events taking place at Notting Hill Carnival hub The Tabernacle, which will play host to a Mas costume showcase, as well as Soca Fridays and Soundsystem Sundays throughout August. Just think of August as a tour of micro Carnivals, paving the way for main one’s return to the streets in 2022.
Carnival Culture in the Park will take place on Aug 19-21 at Opera Holland Park. Tickets go on sale Jul 28. Find out more here.
Need new plans for the August bank holiday? Watch Davido and Kehlani take the stage at Yam Carnival in Clapham.
Find out what else is happening in London this August with our packed events guide.