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A Carnival that brings our city to life

Notting Hill Carnival is London’s biggest street party, with costumed dancers, performers and music that brings the city to life in a colourful celebration of West Indian culture.

It is a weekend to be proud of the diversity and culture of London, the very thing that makes our capital city the amazing and vibrant place that it is. Attracting more than 2.5 million people, Carnival is a place to celebrate unity and resilience.

Since 1966, Carnival hasn’t missed a year or a beat, but traditional Notting Hill festivities will be taking place online for 2020. 

Wanting to find out more about how special this event is, we spoke to Vanessa Chase, a support worker at Railton Road, and her father, Louis Chase, who was Chairman of the Notting Hill Carnival and Arts committee in the 1970s.

Working and dancing at Carnival

Like many, Vanessa has a special place in her heart for Notting Hill Carnival and everything the unique street festival celebrates and stands for.
 

“I have always loved attending Notting Hill Carnival – with my father when I was younger and with my friends in recent years. We would follow the floats in the parade, I would be dancing and singing to calypso and soca music all day.”

“The vibe of Carnival is energetic, lively, dynamic, with a beautiful mixture of colours, from costumes to people.”

More than just attending the day as a festival goer, Vanessa wanted to work at the carnival making sure everyone enjoyed the day as much as she did. 

“For the past four years, I have been a vendor at the carnival, selling whistles, flags and horns, whilst dancing and enjoying the vibes.”

 

Leading the parade

 But Vanessa isn’t the only one in her family that spoke highly of the festival, with her father, Louis Chase having worked closely with Carnival in the past.
 

“I have always loved attending Notting Hill Carnival – with my father when I was younger and with my friends in recent years. We would follow the floats in the parade, I would be dancing and singing to calypso and soca music all day.”

“The vibe of Carnival is energetic, lively, dynamic, with a beautiful mixture of colours, from costumes to people.”

More than just attending the day as a festival goer, Vanessa wanted to work at the carnival making sure everyone enjoyed the day as much as she did. 

“For the past four years, I have been a vendor at the carnival, selling whistles, flags and horns, whilst dancing and enjoying the vibes.”

Vanessa Chase and her friend at Notting Hill Carnival.
Louis Chase, in the early days of the Notting Hill Carnival back in 1970.

“The people of the Caribbean region wear creative, exotic and colourfully designed costumes, dancing to the drum music of the Caribbean region. The parade route is a little over three miles, winding through familiar streets; Westbourne Park Road and culminating at Ladbroke Grove.”

“The drumming from the steel pan, uniquely from Trinidad, and reggae rhythms of Jamaica will be heard on the streets of North Kensington throughout Carnival.”

“Given the circumstances of COVID-19, this day is left to memories of past events. But the carnival’s significance cannot be erased, as Black people in the diaspora still celebrate a sense of freedom during turbulent times.”

Vanessa said her father’s work and efforts to have been part of the movement to make Notting Hill Carnival what it is today is something to admire. 

 

Vanessa and her father, Louis.

“I am very proud of my father for all of his achievements in his life and for him to be a part of a team that has brought so many different nationalities and cultures together for this weekend every year. The work he has done – and the work that many continue to do – unifies us.”

Notting Hill Carnival live-streamed

This year, the carnival will be celebrated a little differently. The Notting Hill Carnival website will be live-streaming music and dancing all day via the Lets Go Do website

Vanessa said she will definitely be joining in the online celebrations this year. 

The four channels of the virtual event – which cover culture, parade, sound systems and the main stage – are available to stream on LetsGoDo.com from Saturday through until Monday.

We hope you have time to tune in and celebrate.