Notting Hill Carnival 2023 – A celebration of culture and unity

The vibrant and much-anticipated Notting Hill Carnival 2023 is in full swing, and the press evening at The Tabernacle gave us a tantalising glimpse of the festivities to come. The carnival promises to be a riot of live music, delicious Caribbean food and drinks, and dancing performers in mesmerising carnivalesque costumes. The theme this year is ‘Dance of the Phoenix,’ and the energy in the air is electric.

Notting Hill Carnival 2023 - A celebration of culture and unity London Mums magazine collage

One of the highlights of the evening was meeting Ragga Edward, the creator of the popular ‘Ragga gin.’ His motto, “neat guy, neat gin,” perfectly encapsulates the essence of his brand. The Duppy Share stall was another crowd favourite, with Julia expertly concocting a delicious rum-based fruit punch using the finest Spiced rum and aged rum from Barbados and Jamaica.

As the evening unfolded, our MC, the famous DJ Martin Jay, took the stage. He leads a dance band called Fanatiks, and his message was clear: anyone can join and be part of the Carnival. The inclusivity of the event is a testament to its roots and history in the area.

Speaking of history, there have been discussions about relocating the Carnival to have more space, possibly in Hyde Park. However, the idea was met with mixed opinions. While some argue that it would provide more room for the festivities, others emphasise that moving the Carnival out of Notting Hill would sever its deep-rooted connections to the Jamaican settlers, their expression of rebellion, and celebration. Notting Hill has been home to this cultural extravaganza for five decades, and the significance of the place cannot be understated.

Costumes are an integral part of the Carnival, and they change every year. Handmade by volunteers, they showcase incredible creativity and artistry. This year, the theme is ‘Dance of the Phoenix,’ promising an explosion of colours and imagination. On Sunday, it’s all about the kids, as they dress up as fire birds, adding a delightful touch to the event.

The Steel bands competition is another exciting aspect of the Carnival. The talent on display will be truly mesmerising, and it’s a must-watch event during the festivities.

Throughout the press evening, we had the opportunity to meet some remarkable individuals who contribute to making the Carnival a success. Dj Fats and Soca Massive, along with Dexter, brought their unique flair to the stage, while Elsa James judged the steel drum competition and children’s costumes with grace and enthusiasm.

Notting Hill Carnival 2023 - A celebration of culture and unity London Mums magazine collage

Matthew Phillip, CEO of Notting Hill Carnival Ltd. delivered a poignant speech, emphasising the importance of celebrating diversity and building bridges between cultures. He acknowledged the challenges the Carnival has faced, from the Grenfell fire to the impact of Covid and crime. Despite these hurdles, the Carnival has stood strong as a beacon of unity, bringing communities together in dance, laughter, and a love of life.

Notting Hill Carnival 2023 marks its 50th anniversary, a testament to its enduring legacy and popularity. Over the years, it has evolved into the second biggest carnival in the world and the largest street event in Europe. The Mayor of Kensington and Chelsea, along with other dignitaries, highlighted the significance of unity in diversity and the essential role the Carnival plays in bringing people together.

Outside PR’s Chris Goodman shed light on the challenges they faced, particularly in rebranding the Carnival’s public image from dangerous to safe. He clarified that the crime rate during the Carnival is very low compared to other London events and is often blown out of proportion by media coverage. In reality, it remains one of the safest street carnivals in Europe.

For families attending the Carnival, Chris provided helpful tips for navigating the event. Children’s day on Sunday is ideal for families, with designated family areas like Powis Square offering a safe and enjoyable experience. The panorama steel band competition on Saturday is a must-see spectacle.

This year’s Carnival pays homage to the Windrush Generation, commemorating the 75th anniversary of the HMT Empire Windrush’s arrival. These pioneers played a crucial role in shaping the Carnival’s roots and have left a lasting impact on the UK’s cultural landscape.

As the Carnival approaches, the excitement builds, and Londoners and visitors from around the world eagerly await the unique experience that only Notting Hill Carnival can offer. With a strong emphasis on inclusivity, diversity, and acceptance, the Carnival remains a celebration of heritage and a powerful testament to the strength of unity.

As Carnival is such an immersive experience with a sprawling programme of sound systems and stages, with partners Trippin, this year there will be an official Carnival map. Trippin is a platform that covers travel recommendations, cultural events and underground scenes around the world – always through the eyes of locals. The platform consistently champions marginalised communities, publishing advice on how to navigate spaces that have historically been discriminatory towards our communities. As a global connector, Trippin has grown into the most diverse and influential travel platform for the future.

Many Carnival-goers have expressed that they’d like more information on how to navigate the event or locate specific spots. The official digital map called ‘Trippin Notting Hill Carnival Map’ can be downloaded for free and used offline from August – even when your phone doesn’t have a signal. It highlights where the sound systems, stages, toilets and medical points are within Notting Hill Carnival, as well as our two safer spaces – specially designed for those who experience high levels of marginalisation within our communities. Furthermore, it features cultural pins, diving deep into the history behind key areas such as Chepstow Road and Westbourne Grove. 

Spotify is continuing its support of Notting Hill Carnival for 2023, with a refreshed and updated ‘Carnival Sounds’ microsite set to launch in early August. Carnival Sounds is the ultimate soundtrack to getting Carnival-ready, featuring insight into many of the sound systems and DJs appearing at Carnival, playlist takeovers and the opportunity to dive deeper into the history and legacy of Carnival via a curated selection of podcasts.

This year, Notting Hill Carnival is partnering witheBayto celebrate authentic carnival sneaker culture past and present. The global online marketplace is also sponsoring iconic Mas band, Mangrove across panorama and the carnival weekend. eBay will be showing up at Notting Hill Carnival on Sunday 27th, encouraging everyone to step out in their realest kicks. Keep an eye on eBay social channels for more news.

In addition to the August bank holiday and following its huge success of the previous two years, Carnival Culture In The Park will be making a return to Opera Holland Park from 16 – 19 August. The four nights will see some of the world’s leading Calypso artists and steel pan players perform over four unique nights –  Wednesday 16 August – Etienne Charles Carnival: The Sound Of A People, Thursday 17 August Steel band Summer, Friday 18 August – Pan Jazz and Saturday 19 August Two Calypso Legends One Fantastic Show With Crazy And Red Plastic Bag. Tickets are available from www.carnivalvillage.org.uk

Launched yesterday is the brand new Notting Hill Carnival website – www.NHCarnival.org. The site will be an information hub for all things Notting Hill Carnival from bands performing to general good advice to have a safe and spectacular Notting Hill Carnival 2023.

So, mark your calendars and get ready to immerse yourself in the sounds, colours, and rhythms of Caribbean and African culture. Notting Hill Carnival 2023 promises to be an unforgettable event, a true celebration of life and a testament to the power of coming together as one. For more information and details, visit nhccarnival.org and get ready to embrace the joy, wonder, and magic of the Notting Hill Carnival.

 

Notting Hill Carnival 2023 highlights:

Opera Holland Park: Carnival Culture In The Park 16 – 19 August 2023

Panorama – Saturday 26 August

NHC Children’s Day – Sunday 27 August

NHC – Monday 28 August

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