Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Notting Hill and Steel Drums

August 30, 2009 · No Comments

Today I explored the Notting Hill area and I could imagine it as a vibrant but mostly quiet neighborhood. This holiday weekend however it was transformed by the Carnival that takes over the streets. Carnival has been held annually for almost fifty years and has exploded into one of the largest festivals in London. The event was originally a local West Indian festival that now draws hundreds of vendors in twenty square miles of streets. The streets explode with people, music, and the smells of traditional Caribbean food like jerked chicken or curried goat. The festival goes on for three days the largest and busiest being Monday. I went on Sunday which is considered the children’s day, so the parades were made up of children who would dance down the streets with each different group in charge of a different theme. Due to the massive amounts of people attending the festival the crowds also draw a strong police presence and varying reactions from the residents.

 Multiple houses and stores had plywood up in front of their storefronts or the gates of the houses to stop people from entering their yards or defacing their property. Certain streets were cordoned off so that only residents were allowed to enter those sections. What was truly surprising was the variety of participants. A huge portion of the visitors were white Brits interspersed with a multitude of ethnic groups including Indian and Muslim, so identified by the bright saris and full hijabs. However after the initial parade another passed later filled with not just members of the black London population but Caucasian and other groups as well. It was incredible to see an event that can trace its roots back to a small local event for the area to what is now a major attraction to the entire city.

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