Fox Carnival Band
    Notting Hill Carnival History
Ebony Steel Band getting ready to roll

Carnival is defined by the dictionary as: "a reveling or a time of revelry, festivity and merrymaking; a travelling entertainment with side shows, games and rides; an organised program of festivities and contests".

What do people do at Carnival? They dance, watch the parade of dazzling costumes, play mas, ride on floats, listen to live bands or sound systems and have a fantastic time! They also participate in activities that come from two histories: those of Trinidad and those of Londoners whose family roots are in the West Indies.

Carnival celebrations date back to 1833 and the Abolition of Slavery Act, when the first Caribbean carnival took place in Trinidad. This evolved into a special part of the area's heritage and it remains centred in Trinidad. It was there that the "five disciplines" of Carnival were developed.

These five constituents of Carnival are: the musics of Calypso and Soca; the tradition of "playing mas" (making and parading lavish costumes and decorative floats); the playing of steel pans and performances by sound systems, whose aesthetics derive from Jamaican reggae.

All these traditions were brought to the UK by settlers from the Caribbean. Initially, they celebrated Carnival privately or locally. But, in 1958, after a series of race riots, community activist Claudia Jones became determined that Carnival should be shared.

London's first public Carnival was held 30 January 1959, in St. Pancras Town Hall. Although much of its organising always came from Notting Hill, Carnival itself moved here officially only in 1964.

CLICK HERE for some links about Notting Hill Carnival

Helping Out
Carnival Year by Year