September 2, 2016

Words and Photos by Lizzy Brown

Each August, Notting Hill Carnival takes place over what is known as the “Bank Holiday Weekend” in Notting Hill, West London, and the procession route carries through the nearby areas of Westbourne Park and Ladbroke Grove. The holiday weekend is generally a complete washout, but this year the weather was kind, and we were lucky to have an abundance of sunshine on the day of the Grand Finale, and what was also the 50th Anniversary of the Carnival.

Around two million people take part in Europe’s largest carnival parade and the world’s second largest carnival after Rio! So it’s no surprise that with the high volume of revelers came issues with crowd control, fueled by excessive alcohol consumption and open drug use. Nonetheless, in the main everyone seemed to enjoy the mas bands, sound-systems, food, great weather and good vibes of the Carnival. Here’s a set of images.

See more images of Notting Hill here.


For those who arrive to see me/actin’ up and wining loose/all down on di ground/wukkin’ wukkin’ up meh bottom/and it draggin’ draggin’ all over town…! I think the Queen of Bacchanal, Destra wrote these lyrics specifically for this wild reveller. I had to get down low on the ground to capture this fantastic visual of the energy that Carnival creates.

An explosion of colour and energy surrounds this stunning masquerader as she paused behind the big truck to take a phone call, and strike a pose in the midst of bacchanal! Love it.


I just love the gaze between the uninhibited masquerader and the unassuming gentleman with the knowing smile. The moment lasted only for a second or two as she continued twirling and dancing along the procession route and he continued to make his way in the opposite direction, disappearing into the crowd.


Along with the expectations of experiencing spectacular sights and sounds pan music at Notting Hill Carnival, revellers also expect to find Caribbean street food stalls and a different kind of ‘pan’ scattered liberally along the Carnival route. This would be the ever popular ‘pan’ chicken (or pork/fish) โ€” Jamaican style jerk, cooked hot and fresh on the spot in a traditional drum pan on the street side.


Officially, there are over 38 sound systems listed on the Carnival route along Westbourne Park, Portobello Road, Ladbroke Grove, to name a few. But you won’t find “Carnival’s Smallest Sound System” on any list. Located just off Tavistock Road, you’ll find this mini fun session taking place outside Aldridge Road Villas. It’s been going strong for nine years now, a firm fixture at Carnival.


Didn’t think I would come across a swaggering buccaneer with feathers in his hat and requisite parrot (a drunken parrot by the looks of it!) on his shoulder. But this is Carnival โ€” anything goes.


Here, I’m photographing one of the thousands of visitors to the Grand Finale of Carnival having their photo taken on an iPhone by a friend.


As I stepped out of the Tube at Westbourne Park Station on an uncharacteristically sweltering hot Bank Holiday Monday (it always rains Bank Holiday Monday), I was swallowed up and spat out by the pumped up Carnival crowd somewhere near Tavistock Road. As I found myself doing a 360 to find my bearings, I spotted this officer looking as cool as a glass of Pimms โ€” ready for business on what must surely be one of the busiest and most fun days to be on the beat.


Notting Hill Carnival takes place over three days in the last weekend of August every year. And on each day, the themes of community spirit and diversity stand out as prominently as the colourful feathered headdresses on these participants in their Mas costumes.


This jaunty couple danced away to the sounds of ska outside a pub dedicated to the Empire Windrush. They seemed to be reviving a happy nostalgia of times gone by.