The history of Notting Hill Carnival

Here's our brief guide to the history of the Notting Hill Carnival.

Skiddle Staff

Date published: 16th Aug 2023

Next weekend, Notting Hill Carnival will be taking place yet again. Well over a million people will be in attendance, as the streets of Notting Hill are taken over by a vibrant array of colours and sound. We thought we'd take a quick look at the history of this annual London tradition and what makes it so great.


In 1959, a Trinidadian human rights activist called Claudia Jones put on a Caribbean Carnival at St Pancras Town Hall which was broadcast by the BBC and seen as the seed of what would become Notting Hill Carnival. It was put on in the aftermath of the killing of Kelso Cochrane in the midst of racial tensions.

The community wanted to change tragedy into a showing of solidarity and in 1966, the first outdoor festival took place in the streets of Notting Hill. It was a multi-cultural event which saw Caribbean and West Indian residents come together, with steel bands and dancing taking place in the streets.


Notting Hill Carnival has maintained that vital community feeling ever since. Over the next few decades, it has become more and more diverse, whilst still platforming the initial cultures which started the celebrations. The Windrush generation have a clear influence in the culture of the festival.

Over the years, the musical performances have diversified too, with performances coming from the likes of Jay Z, Stormzy, Wiley and Busta Rhymes. The carnival continues to be one of the biggest annual events in the capital and long may it bring joy, dancing and incredible music to the streets. 



Check out our What's On Guide to discover even more rowdy raves and sweaty gigs taking place over the coming weeks and months. For festivals, lifestyle events and more, head on over to our Things To Do page or be inspired by the event selections on our Inspire Me page.







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