In England the last Monday in August is a public holiday and many thousands of people take the opportunity to travel to West London for the Notting Hill Carnival. The first carnival was held in 1966 and so this year was the 50th anniversary.
In the 25 years after the Second World War many people emigrated to the UK from Commonwealth countries. Many came from the Caribbean. They are known as West Indians. For West Indians carnival is an important cultural event and over the years the Notting Hill Carnival has become the biggest street festival in Europe.
Planning for the various carnival clubs takes many months. Fund raising takes place for the spectacular costumes that are designed and then made.
The carnival begins with the children’s parade. Hundreds of children take part in wonderful glittery costumes. There is also lots of loud music. Some of the youngsters dress as a group whilst others are individual. What is certain is that many hours were spent making the costumes. Colourful feathers and amazing headdresses are to be seen.
Another feature of the carnival is the variety of ethnic foods available from street vendors. The food smells add to the atmosphere created. Sadly there are always some who are out to spoil the fun and police have reported that about 400 were arrested for a variety of crimes. Pick-pocketing is perhaps the most common crime that people are arrested for. The police also relax a little and there are always pictures of police joining in the dancing.