Notting Hill Carnival: London, England’s Most Outrageous Street Party

During the last weekend of every August, approximately one million punters rock up for Red Stripe and revelry at London’s Notting Hill Carnival. Originally introduced by Caribbean immigrants in the mid-60s, the event has evolved into one of Europe’s biggest street celebrations. Think of Mardi Gras…on steroids.

Comparing manicures?

Comparing manicures?

Picture parades of scantily clad dancers, undulating in sequins and feathers as they writhe and wiggle among the crowds or hover above the fray on elaborate floats, snaking through the streets of one of London’s buzziest multicultural neighbourhoods. Clouds of smoke rise up from BBQ stalls, perfuming the air with eau de jerk chicken and curried goat.

Gaz gets into the groove.

Gaz gets into the groove.

Giant speakers blast steal drums and reggae so loudly that the sound waves vibrate your very bones. Meanwhile, Gaz’s Rockin’ Blues Bandstand (the best free show you’ll ever see, or your money back) features live performances by costumed musicians on a set worthy of a West End theatre.

For the three years I lived in Notting Hill, I had a front-row seat for the carnival, taking in the action from atop the porch outside my window. (My rear windows overlooked the dumpsters of a Tesco loading dock, but I tend not to brag about that so much).

While some folks boarded up their shops and ground floor flats, fleeing the crowds, I locked and loaded my camera, knowing that many of the year’s most memorable moments were about to unfold in the neighbourhood I felt fortunate to call home.

Here are some of the strangest moments from Carnivals past.

"Snakey Joe" mistakes his reptile for a popsicle.

“Snakey Joe” mistakes his python for a popsicle.

It's good to see that Daryl Hannah is still getting work.

It’s good to see that Daryl Hannah is still getting work.

Clearly, this men appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into Gaz's Rockin' Bandstand.

Clearly, these men appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into Gaz’s Rockin’ Blues Bandstand.

Many children are conceived during Carnival.

Many children are conceived during Carnival.

Let this be a warning to the other cans of Heineken.

Let this be a warning to the other cans of Heineken.

If Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love" back-up girls lived in 1737.

If Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” back-up girls lived in 1737.

Getting his drink on...and getting jiggy.

Getting his drink on…and getting jiggy.

Aloha Elvis is in the house!

Aloha Elvis is in the house!

Having fun with the tourists.

Having fun with the tourists.

In the 1800s, most of America's Cherokee population was forced to relocate to Oklahoma. But a few, apparently, escaped to Las Vegas...and then to Notting Hill.

In the 1800s, most of America’s Cherokee population was forced to relocate to Oklahoma. But a few, apparently, escaped to Las Vegas…and then to Notting Hill.

How embarrassing! We're wearing the same thing!

How embarrassing! We’re wearing the same thing!

You know what I really love? This girl's back-pack. I mean, what does she keep in there? Spare floss? Her vast collection of Mardi Gras beads? Or maybe a sweater in case her grandmother happens to drop by?

You know what I really love? This girl’s back-pack. I mean, what does she keep in there? Spare floss? Her vast collection of Mardi Gras beads? Or maybe a sweater in case her grandmother happens to drop by?

A look of pure...joy? Either that, or her floss is chafing.

A look of pure…joy? Either that, or her sequins are chafing.

This little girl is not impressed.

This little girl is not impressed.

Hello, little people!

I want to be her when I grow up.

Looks like she's met her match.

Looks like she’s met her match.

These folks used to dance on the porch just across the street from our flat. One of the best shows of the festival.

These folks used to dance on the porch just across the street from our flat. One of the best shows of the festival.

The view from my old flat.

The view from my old flat.

Zombie apocalypse...or Carnival aftermath?

Zombie apocalypse…or Carnival aftermath?

MORE INFORMATION:

http://www.timeout.com/london/things-to-do/notting-hill-carnival-guide

http://www.thenottinghillcarnival.com

4 Comments

  1. Chuckles says:

    I don’t remember Portabello Road looking like this.

  2. Charles says:

    Wish we could be there with you.

  3. […] You ain’t seen nothing yet, my friends. Check out my photos of the Notting Hill Carnival, a visual feast of sequins, feathers…and not much else, when it comes to clothes: http://amylaughinghouse.com/?p=3357 […]

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