The 53rd Notting Hill Carnival 2019 Launch.

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The 53rd Notting Hill Carnival 2019 Launch.

By Paul Davies.

The world’s second biggest carnival and Europe’s largest street event, Notting Hill Carnival will - for an incredible 53rd time - be taking place in Notting Hill on the August Bank Holiday weekend (25 and 26 August). UK’s biggest celebration of culture, diversity and inclusivity, it will once again be full of vibrant colours, incredible music, dancing and delicious food. As is tradition, Panorama, the UK’s biggest and most important Steel Pan Competition takes place on the evening that precedes Carnival (Saturday 24 August) at Emslie Horniman Pleasance Park.

Saturday 24 August, 6pm        UK National Panorama Steelband Competition

Emslie Horniman Pleasance Park, Bosworth Road, London, W10 5EG

Buy tickets in advance at via Eventbrite  £10 for adults and £3 children. Under 5’s free

Sunday 25 August, 10am         Notting Hill Carnival Children's Day

Carnival Dancers at the launch of the Notting Hill Carnival 2019 at The Tabernacle, Notting Hill.  Photography by: Jeff Moh.

Carnival Dancers at the launch of the Notting Hill Carnival 2019 at The Tabernacle, Notting Hill.

Photography by: Jeff Moh.

Monday 26 August, 12pm        Notting Hill Carnival

Why does Notting Hill Carnival exist?

Notting Hill Carnival is an event founded on inclusivity, acceptance and cultural diversity. The first outdoor event took place in 1966 and was led by local resident and social worker Rhaune Laslett – a Londoner of Native American and Russian descent and an established community activist with a history of addressing and easing inter-cultural tension in the area since the race riots of the 1950s.

It is still proudly a community-led event, and whilst Notting Hill Carnival is rooted in Caribbean culture, with its Windrush-generation influence remaining strongly evident, it is at the same time characteristically ‘London’ – today's modern London.

Read the full story of Notting Hill Carnival at 

Notting Hill Carnival’s community is its heartbeat

The Notting Hill Carnival is a 12 month a year event. Planning, designing and making costumes, choreographing dances, writing music and rehearsing performances all take meticulous planning and painstaking hours to prepare, and in the main, this is all done through pure love and volunteers both young and old.

As a result, the Notting Hill Carnival has generated a whole host of creative opportunities that would not otherwise exist. Throughout London and beyond, people come together to pass on skills and knowledge from generation to generation which teaches respect, culture and new skills.

Whilst it’s estimated that Notting Hill Carnival generates over *100 million for London’s economy, it is organised by a not-for-profit organisation. *based on an estimate of 93 million in 2002 featured in the Mayor of London’s NHC Strategic Review 

Carnival Stilt Walker promoting the community aspects of Notting Hill Carnival.  Photography by: Jeff Moh.

Carnival Stilt Walker promoting the community aspects of Notting Hill Carnival.

Photography by: Jeff Moh.

Enjoy Children’s Day

The first day of Notting Hill Carnival (Sunday 25 August) is traditional ‘Children’s Day’ or ‘Family Day’. All are of course welcome, but the bands on the road as part of the carnival parade are dominated by children.

Did you know - Anyone can join a mas band for Carnival, just go to, select a band and apply. Be aware you will have to apply ahead of the carnival weekend and deadlines dates will vary between bands.

Interview opportunities: Kevin Antoi who runs a youth club all year around that focus' on the carnival arts, Charlotte Woolford whose mum set up a youth group which she now runs and

Fiona Hawthorne a local artist who founded her youth Mas band for her children's school in the early 90’s and is still heavily involved in the carnival.

What is a Mas Band?

Mas Bands are at the heart of the Notting Hill Carnival parade and are most commonly associated with what visually represents a carnival. It is where themed costumes meet with music, dance, spectators and judges. The origins of mas, from the word ‘masquerade’, go back to the 1800s with the emancipation of slavery in the Caribbean. Prior to their freedom, the slaves would mimic and ridicule the masters, copying the elaborate gowns worn at their celebration balls and combining them with many African traditions of their former cultures – which included costumes made with bones and natural products, and blue devils playing music with tins and bamboo. Read more here - 

What is Steelband?

Involved with its conception and present throughout Notting Hill Carnival’s history, Steel bands are an integral part of Notting Hill Carnivals tradition. Bringing the unique sound and energy of the Caribbean to the streets of London. It takes year-round, and even lifelong dedication to master the Steel Pan. 

A modern steel pan is a chromatically pitched percussion instrument made from a 55-gallon industrial drum. 

What is Panorama?

UK National Panorama Steelband Competition is the annual Steel Pan event and is the most respected and anticipated outside of the Caribbean. The best of the best pan players and steel pan bands from all over the world showcase their skills. This incredible spectacle of sight and sound takes place at the Emslie Horniman Pleasance Park (Bosworth Road, W10 3DH) on the Saturday that precedes Notting Hill Carnival (24th August) from 6 - 11pm. Read more on its origins here - 

What is a Sound-System?

Rooted in Jamaican culture and ‘Reggae’ music, Sound-Systems were officially introduced to Notting Hill Carnival in 1973. Today there are over 30 static Sound-Systems catering for numerous musical tastes. Everything from ‘Dub’, ‘Rare Groove’ and ‘House’ to ‘Jungle’, ‘Samba’ ‘Blues’ and ‘Hip Hop’. Sound-Systems have been a foundation for many DJ’s careers, and there have also been many guest performances through the years that have included the likes of Idris Elba, Soul II Soul, Tim Westwood and Ms. Dynamite.

As described by Ricky Belgrave, Chairman of BASS (British Association of Sound Systems), “a ‘Sound’ is a super-amplified mobile system, invariably called by a name, manned by a team of individuals, each having real skills, who together create a unique party vibe wherever they set up and play recorded music of their choice.”

What is J’ouvert?

The J’ouvert celebration (from the French, Jour Ouvert: “opening of the day”) is an important and integral part of Caribbean carnivals. This ancestral tradition is a procession that traditionally takes place before sunrise of the opening day (Sunday). The participants throw paints and colourful powders to the sound of steel pans and celebrate the start of the carnival.

Live Stages

There are traditionally three at Notting Hill Carnival. The Horniman’s Stage, which on the first day of Carnival (Sunday) is taken over by Red Bull, the Powis Square Stage, based opposite the Tabernacle and the Meanwhile Garden Stage which concentrates on children's entertainment. Read more here -

Generally, line-ups for the stages are not announced in advance of Carnival weekend but in 2018 there were performances from Major Lazer and Giggs.

Who Are Notting Hill Carnival Limited?

Notting Hill Carnival has always been, and always will be a community-led event. Notting Hill Carnival Limited is a charity organisation led by Matthew Phillip who helps the community, local authorities and public services pull together for a safe and spectacular weekend.

Notting Hill Carnival LIMITED

After a successful bid to be the official organisers of Notting Hill Carnival 2018, Carnival Village Trust (CVT) incorporated Notting Hill Carnival Ltd. on 8 January 2018.  

In Autumn 2018 CVT again successfully bid for funding to implement the organisation of Notting Hill Carnivals 2019, 2020 and 2021. The monies awarded to CVT will finance Notting Hill Carnival Ltd. as the NHC organiser.

Notting Hill Carnival Ltd will develop, create and implement the structure and strategy to deliver on all that is set out in the CVT bid for Notting Hill Carnival. 

Second Screen

Second Screen is a London-based app developer specialising in festival, event, brand, venue and artist apps. Founded in 2016, Second Screen offers a white-label platform for promoters and organisers, helping them to digitally-enhance events and their communities, open a new revenue stream and deliver information in a quicker, more environmentally-friendly way. Clients include Notting Hill Carnival, BBC Introducing Live, Love Supreme and Boardmasters.


Paul Davies