Held each August Bank Holiday since 1966, the Notting Hill Carnival is the largest festival celebration of its kind in Europe.
In the time that I have been living in London there have been SEVEN Notting Hill Carnivals and I have been to... yes you guessed it, NONE... Not one!
I've always wanted to go. Even before I moved to London, I wanted to go but for one reason or another it has never been possible. I've been trying to think back to when I first moved to London at the end of August 2009. There is a chance that I was in London at the time of the carnival? However, having just moved to the big smoke of from the sticks of North Wales, I didn't know anyone in London at that time and so I wouldn't have had anybody to go with. There is also a good chance that I was out of London over that particular weekend, collecting more stuff from home and saying goodbye to family and friends.
I'm not completely sure what the truth is about 2009. However, every year that I have lived in London since, up until this year, I have always been out of London at the end of August. But finally, this year that was all about to change. This August Bank Holiday Monday I was actually in London. However, unfortunately, although I was here in London, I wasn't completely free to enjoy all of the joys of carnival.
Even though it was Bank Holiday Monday, still the end of August and the children throughout London wouldn't be back in school for a week, I was, for some unknown reason, still expected to be at work. Which of course was a tad ridiculous. How could I be expected to teach my swimming lessons, when most of my students were still sunning themselves in foreign climes?
But back to the matter at hand. CARNIVAL! It was the Notting Hill Carnival and I was finally in London.!So me and my lovely girlfriend Liliana dressed up in our
sparkliest carnival outfits wellies and waterproofs - because although it was raining quite heavily, there was no way we were going to let the weather dampen our spirits - and jumped the tube to Notting Hill.
And despite the fairly substantial rainfall, there were a hell of a lot of people out and about. Upon arriving, we found a huge sea of umbrellas, stretching as far as the eye could see (and thanks to the undulating roads of Notting Hill, they could see quite far):
But people couldn't care less about the weather. I mean, I'm sure people would have been having even more fun, if the sun had be blazing down upon us but people weren't about to let a little rain spoil their fun.
There was music and people dancing at every turn and of course the big, bright and wonderful parade winding it's way slowly through the streets:
Of the very little I saw of the Carnival, it was brilliant! I saw a little of the parade, had a little - slightly self-conscious boogie in the streets - and enjoyed some wonderful jerk chicken:
But unfortunately because I had to run off, to sit bored by a swimming pool, dreaming of being at the carnival all evening. I wasn't there when it really starts to come to life and so I still feel as though I haven't been to the Notting Hill Carnival.
It was fairly busy while I was there but it was only just starting to warm up. As I was leaving the crowds of young people arriving was bigger than ever:
I'm not sure how well you can tell from this grainy, black and white picture? But that is a lot of Red Stripe supping youths arriving!
For the short time I was there I had a great time, but having to shoot off mid afternoon meant that I missed all the evening fun. I definitely got the feeling that the real fun starts as the sun starts to go down? Therefore, although I had a fun time and would highly recommend checking out the carnival next year if you get the chance. I say it while feeling like a bit of a fraud.
I have now finally been to the Notting Hill Carnival but through no fault of the rain, it was all a bit of a washout. Maybe next year?!
Happy Bank Holiday everyone! :)