Notting Hill Carnival - Maxicours

Notting Hill Carnival

Objectifs
  • Découvrir un aspect de la notion d'étude diversité et inclusion
  • Découvrir un événement culturel et artistique qui anime la vie londonienne 
Points clés
  • Le carnaval de Notting Hill a lieu tous les ans, en août, dans le centre de Londres, depuis 1966. Il est le carnaval le plus important d'Europe.
  • À l'origine, deux événements distincts :
    • un festival hippie organisé pour favoriser l'unité de la population
    • un carnaval caribéens créé pour répondre aux attaques raciales subies par la communauté noire
  • C'est un moyen de rendre hommage à leurs origines africaines et antillaises et de perpétuer les traditions de leur patrie d'origine. Depuis les années 1980, des groupes brésiliens ont rejoint les festivités.
  • Chants et danses animent le parcours des chars à travers Kensington. L'événement permet de montrer l'intégration réussie de ces communautés à la société anglaise et la cohésion des habitants de Londres.

The Notting Hill Carnival is a very popular event that takes place annually in London. It has been held at the end of August in Kensington (West End of central London) since 1966. Organised by the West Indian community it attracts about two and a half million tourists and visitors every year and is one of the biggest carnivals in the world, the biggest in Europe.

The West Indies represent a group of islands lying between Florida (USA) and South America in the Caribbean sea.
1. The Origins

The NHC was born from two separate events in the 1960s: a Caribbean carnival and a hippie festival. The first one was created in response to the racial attacks that the black community of the country had to face then and the second one was meant to create unity among the inhabitants of the city, and the country too. Like in the USA the 1960s were a difficult period for the coloured people in England.
As the years went by, the carnival became more and more important and essentially “Caribbean” but as some riots between youths and the police took place in the 1970s and 1980s, the carnival was nearly banned. Fortunately this did not happen. Prince Charles was among the few who supported the event.

2. Caribbean Music and Dances

The carnival is an opportunity for the West Indians to recreate a home in London. The use of sound systems (disc jockeys, engineers, ska and reggae music) by these people whose ancestors were mostly former slaves, and who came from the islands situated in the Caribbean Sea (The Greater Antilles, The Lesser Antilles, the Bahamas...), remind them of their origins and they can, for two days, create a new space where they feel at home and perpetuate the traditions of their homeland.
They also honour their African origins. Colourful soca dancers (mixing of soca and calypso music), reggae and ragga musicians, decorated floats and stages entertain the crowd by parading slowly along the 3-mile route.
It is worth noting that even if they are not part of the West Indies, Brazilian bands joined the movement in 1984. They were soon popular, delighting the spectators with their samba dances along the parade route.

Spectators can participate to the festival by purchasing a costume and joining the band they have chosen in order to “play mas (masquerade)” on the route. Each band has a new theme that they must respect and some judges decide at the end of the carnival which band has won the contest. Spectators can also attend live performances, take part to a T-shirt competition or be stewards to help the organizers.

3. A Major and Spectacular Event

The organizers of the festival aim at creating a spectacular and safe event. They also want to promote their culture through art and music so as to become an event of immense value culturally and economically and they work with the local community.
Last but not least, they are committed to ensuring that the Caribbean community has been integrating well in England, which the authorities acknowledge. Pretty sure that the country is now proud of this event which has become one of the highlights of London’s social life.

4. Conclusion

As we can see here, the NHC tends to show that diversity and inclusion can be closely linked. This type of event is a chance for a country because it brings in a new type of culture and gives people an immense opportunity to discover other habits and customs. And what’s more, in a very festive way!

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