The second biggest carnival in the world

Posted by on

Notting Hill Carnival first marched the streets of London in 1966 and every year since on the August Bank holiday, this year Sunday the 25th and Monday 26th of August. The carnival celebrates Black culture and is known as a lively and colourful event aimed at an all-inclusive crowd of all ages. So where and why did this vivid explosion of culture originate? As with many significant festivals in our annual calendar it is said to have risen from the ashes of a tragic incident, in this case a reaction to an emergence of racial conflict surrounding race riots in London in the late 1950s with white gangs attacking migrants in the streets of London.

At the end of the Second World War Britain saw an influx of migrants and tension began to increase in some white communities and far right political groups. The breaking point was reportedly when a white Swedish woman, Majbritt Morrison, and her Jamaican husband, Raymond Morrison, had a public argument at the Latimer Road Underground Station on 19th August 1958. A group of white people intervened and a fight broke out between them and some of Raymond’s friends who had also gathered at the scene. The following day a gang of white youths, who had reportedly seen the incident, physically assaulted Majbritt and racially abused her, calling her a “Black man’s trollop”. With an already unsettled population this was the spark that lit the fire and, later that night, a mob of 300-400 white people marched up Bramley Road attacking the houses of West Indian residents. This quickly turned into mass rioting across the whole Notting Hill area and the attacks, disorder and hostility continued until 5th of September. During the two weeks of ethnic conflict 140 arrests were made by the Metropolitan Police, mostly white youths but also some black people found carrying weapons. In total 108 people were charged with a variety of violent crimes ranging from grievous bodily harm to affray, of the 108 people charged 72 were white and 36 were black.

In response to the hostility in the area, on 30th of January 1959 Claudia Jones, editor of The West Indian Gazette, saw a call for a positive display of ethnic culture to boost morale in the diverse community and bring all the ethnicities of London together in a celebration. Jones organised a Caribbean Carnival held in St Pancras Town Hall, four and a half miles from where the conflict began at Latimer Road Station. The event showcased elements of a Caribbean style carnival such as calypso signing, steel bands, traditional games and a beauty queen contest.

So how did the Caribbean Carnival in St Pancreas Town Hall journey to the streets of Notting Hill? In August 1966 community activist and co-founder of the London Free School in Notting Hill, Rhaune Laslette-O’Brien (who is credited as the founder of Notting Hill Carnival), unaware of the indoor event down the road, organised a celebration, in conjunction with the school, to support diversity in the area. Laslette-O’Brien was born in London in 1919 to a Native American mother and Russian father. She was an humanitarian activist who ran a 24-hour legal advice service for immigrants and the homeless, set up a playground for children in the local area and created the progressive London Free School as a non racial, all-inclusive education centre for children of all backgrounds and ethnicities. The original carnival was intended to promote cultural unity and modelled on American street parties for children in the neighbourhood. It featured local residents from India, Ghana, Czechoslovakia, Ukraine and Cyprus and performances included Afro-Cuban, Nigerian and Irish music, a New Orleans-style marching band and Russell Henderson’s steel pan group who led the first ever procession up Portobello Road.

Over the years the two celebrations supposedly combined and took on a more definite Caribbean flavour, the carnival has become the biggest street party in Europe and the second largest carnival in the world after The Carnival in Rio. The costumes, food, performers and array of highly acclaimed and diverse music is a fantastic display of Black culture and has certainly achieved the multicultural unity in the area that its visionaries intended.

1959 1966 25th 26th Afro-Cuban august black black culture britain british calendar calypso Caribbean carnival celebration Claudia Jones colourful community conflict culture Cyprus Czechoslovakia ethnic ethnicities ethnicity Europe event gang Ghana history holiday immigrants India Irish Latimer Road Station london London Free School Majbritt Morrison marching band monday Native American New Orleans Nigerian notting hill originate political Portobello Road procession race racial Raymond Morrison Rhaune Laslette-O’Brien Rio riots Russell Henderson Russian St Pancras Town Hall steel band steel pan sunday The Carnival in Rio Ukraine white

← Older Post Newer Post →


1.5°C 11.7 million 1930 1959 1966 1970 1983 1991 1993 2 - 0 2024 2100 25th 26th 35 litres 69 million 72 hours abandoned Abel Nobel Prize for mathematics accessories accessory account achievement acidifying acidity active activist activity Ada Hegerberg adriatic advertise aed africa african african american Afro-Cuban aged agriculture air pollution albania alexander hamilton altered alternative america american ancient angelica Anne Jarvis anniversary Anthony Anthony Modeste april architecture Arctic ice caps art arthur artist artists arya asia assessments athletics attenborough august australia Australians austrilasia aware awareness away B&H Dairy baby backpack backstage bacteria bag baggage bags balance for better balcony baldwin street Ballon D’Or banana banana milkshake bar mitzvah barbecue bard baroque bars bat mitzvah beach beach day beat beautiful beauty beginning bellybutton belonging Benicassim berlin Bestival Beyoncé bill bowerman birdsong birth birthday black black culture black friday blade bleaching blossom blue eyes blumenthal bolivia bonfire bonfires boss Boston Marathon bouquets boy boycotting brach breadwinner brexit bride britain british brits broadway brother brown leather brunette budget building buildings Bundesliga Business business owner business sector buy buying cabin calendar calypso campaigns camping cancer carbon carbon capture technology cardio Caribbean carnival carry caseiculture catastrophe catastrophic Catherine catholic causes celebrate celebration cercei cersei challenge Champions League change character charities charity charles charlotte cheap cheer cheese chicago childcare children china chinese christian christmas christmas gift church city Claudia Jones clientearth climate climate change coal coastal defences coffee coloured leather colourful comedy comme des garcons Commedia dell’Arte community computer conan conflict conscience conscientious consequences considerate consumer consumerism consumption control coolio coral coratia cornwall counties country couple court crawl Creamfields create creep cricket crisis cross fit crossfit cult cultural culture cup cyber monday Cyprus Czechoslovakia dad daenerys damaged dancing dany date day day pack daylight Deborah Meaden december decision decorations defending oceans definition deforestation deities deity delicious denmark designer designers devastating developing diary dictator dior discount discounts distress distressed doctorate Download drag drag queen dragon Dragons Den drastic drinking drunk dubrovnik duffel duffle dunedin earth east village eat less meat eco ecosystems edinburg edmund hillary education educational effortless egyptian electric eliza Ellen White Ellen Wille elvis presley embossed embossing emerge emilia clarke emissions Emma emotion emotional empower empowering Enela Camero Piscopia england England vs USA english enjoy entrepreneur enviro-political environment environmental environmentalists equal equality equinox ethics ethiopia ethnic ethnicities ethnicity ethos etibar elchyev europe event exclusive exhibition experiments extinct extinction extreme fabulous fair family farmers fashion fast father fathers day faux pas female business owner female entrepreneur female role models female stereotype femeninity femenism femenist feminism feminist festival festivals fial field fifa fight filthy finale finals finn fitness flawed Fleabag flooding flower food football footprint Forbes magazine fork fossil fuel founding father fracking friday friends of the earth fringe fruit full moon fun game of thrones gang gangstas paradise garden garland garment gender gender equality generation george gerden germany getaway Ghana Gianbattista Cornaro-Piscopia gift gifts ginger give giving glamorous Glastonbury global Global Running Day globe goggle goggle face goggle fingers gold goldberg government governments grandchildren grandfather greek green energy greenhouse gasses greenpeace groom growth guarantee guinness book of world records gym gym bag gym bunny gymnast habitat habitats hamilton Hampshire hand made handled handles handmade hangover harry harvest hbo headband heat-wave hempstead heath henge Henry her heroism hers heston heston blumenthal Hilary Devey him hip hop his history holdall holiday holidays honest honesty honeymoon hopping horizon hostel Houghton human human rights hungover hvar hydrated ian robertson ideas identity ignorant immigrant immigrants imperfect imperfection important India indigenous individual inexpensive influence influencer initials innovative inscription inspired international international womens day international womens day 2019 invasive species IPCC Irish iron iron throne iwd iwd 2019 james Janet Heyden japan japanese jew jewish joffrey johanna quaas john jon snow joseph journey journeys june juno jupiter Karen Brady Karen Uhlenbeck kate Katherine Virginia Switzer Kelly Hoppen kent Khaleesi king kings kings councel kiss kitten kiwi kiwis knightsbridge korcula kosher Kristen Scott Thomas kyoto la Lancashire large Latimer Road Station Latitude Leather leather gift leather origins leather wash bag life lifetime lioness lioness's litha local london London Free School lonely longest louis love Love Island Lovebox luggage luggage tags luxury mad queen Majbritt Morrison man map marathon marching band Margaret Mark market markle Martha Martin Mary mary quant masie williams materials Matilda Matthew maypole meaning media medieval meghan men mens mens gift mens personalised merry christmas midsummer milisandre mixed mixed race Modeste mom monarchy monday money money lenders monogram moon shoe mother mothers day mothers day around the world mothers day gifts mothers day history motivation mouldy mount everest mountain movement mp mum museum music musical muslim myc naked name NASA scientist National Environment Day National Hug Your Cat Day Native American natural nature negative netherlands neuroscience new New Orleans new year New York new yorkers new zealand newlyweds newspapers niche Nicholas Nigerian night king nightmares nike Nobel Prize norway norwegian notting hill nutrition nyc objectives ocean oil olenna online organisation organisations organise originate outdoor oxygen pack packed packing pagan Paris Agreement party Paul people percection perfect personal personalisation personalised personalised gift personalised mens gift personalization personalized persuade petition philip photo shoot pimms plane crash planet plant plastic pocket polish political politicians politics pollutants pollution popular population growth porter loos Portobello Road poverty power power lifter practical predictions Prejudice present presents pressure pressures pride prince probability procession produced production products professor green project prosperity protect our planet protecting forests protester protesters protesting pub pubic hair purchase quality quality control quant quarter queen r&b race racial rain rap rapid rapping Raymond Morrison rebel rebellion record red red priestess red-head reduce reduction reforestation regents park reign relations relationship relationships religious renaissance renewable renewable energy report resorces resort response restaurants restore retail retailers review Rhaune Laslette-O’Brien Rio riots risk ritual role model roman romanesque romans ron chernow rough royal runner running rupaul rupauls drag race Russell Henderson Russian rustic ryotaro matsumura s7 s8 sale sandwich santa scandanavia school science scruffy sea sea levels season season 7 season 8 seasonal secret self-sustainable sexism shakespeare shoulder shoulder strap showers side pocket sins sister skin skyline slow slow fashion slow-fashion small small business sneakers social solstice solutions song songs sophisticated sotheby's soul south special spin-off split spoons spring St Pancras Town Hall starbucks statistics staycation steel band steel pan steepest stocking stone stone henge stop deforestation store story strain street summer sun sunday sunlight sunshine support sussex sustainability sustainable sweden symbolic symbolise tags target tea tea ceremony technology teenage temperature temperature rises tent thailand thanksgiving The Apprentice The Carnival in Rio the netherlands theatre theme theory thor thorbjorn thordis thorkell thoughtful throne thunburg ticket title toiletries toronto Torres Strait Torres Strait Islands touch tour tourist tourists tournament tout toxic trade tradition traditional traditional household tragedy trainers transparent transport travel travelled traveller travels treat trend trends trip tropic truth tuna melt turkish turquoise tyrion UEFA UK UK business owners UK entrepreneurs Ukraine UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change unfinished Unilever Foundry unique university usa V&A vacation vanda Venice victoria and albert victory view vintage vintage child wabi-sabi waffle maker walking tour wallpaper warantee warranty wash wash bag wash-bag washington waste water bottle wealth weather conditions wedding weekend weekends weight lifting west westeros white white walker white walkers william win winner wisdom of imperfection woman women women in business womens womens world cup 2019 women’s football Worcestershire world world cup world steepest street worldwide year yellow yin Yorkshire Zanetta Boni