The carnival generally attracts up to 1.5 million people from Britain and around the world, making it the largest street festival in Europe, and one of the largest on the planet. However in 2003 numbers plunged to below 600,000, ranking it second in Europe after the August Street Parade in Zürich.
|Table of contents|
3 Attendance Figures
4 See also
Carnival kicks off on Saturday with the Panorama, a competition between London's steelpan bands. Sunday is Children's Day, with a shorter Carnival route for children and young people, while the main parade takes place on bank holiday monday.
The current Monday route covers around 3 miles, following Great western Road, Chepstow Road, Westbourne Grove and Ladbrook Grove. In addition to trucks with pan bands or mobile Sound Systems, there are costumed masqueraders and around 40 static Sound Systems spread throughout the area playing a range of music at high volume. While the "traditional" Soca and some Calypso can still be found, many other musical styles are represented.
Carnival began in January 1959 in St Pancras Town Hall as a response to the depressing state of race relations at the time, which had seen the UKs first widespread racial attacks the previous year. It was a huge success, despite being indoors.
It first moved outside and into August in 1965. In fact, the prime mover was Rhaune Laslett, who wasn't even aware of the indoor events when she first raised the idea. It was more a Notting Hill event than an Afro-Caribbean event, and around 1000 people turned out.
By 1976 the event had become definitely Caribbean in flavour, with around 150 000 people attending, but that year the carnival was marred by riots, as the youthful black population took out their frustration against the police - a target due to the continuous harassment the population were experiencing. It was a story repeated for several years, blown up into a major news story by the press, where there was a notable lack of racial tolerance. For a while it looked as if the carnival may be banned. Prince Charles was one of the few establishment figures who supported the event.
Fortunately the event is now free from serious trouble and a true multi-cultural experience, though dominated by the Afro-Caribbean culture in the best traditions of Rio.
In 2003 the Carnival was run by a limited company - Notting Hill Carnival Trust Ltd. A report by the London Development Agency on the 2002 Carnival estimated that the event contribues around 93,000,000 pounds to the London and UK Economy