Notting Hill Carnival has been taking place in the UK for decades, with its first being held in 1959 at St Pancras Town Hall. It is now an integrated cultural event held annually in London, with many other festivals taking place across the country. After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Notting Hill Carnival returns to the streets of London for the August Bank Holiday (Saturday 27The tenth Until Monday 29The tenth) are prevalent in Westbourne Grove, Westbourne Park, Kensal Road and Ladbroke Grove.
Although the Carnival is hosted in London, the event is not just for Londoners; The weekend attracts attendees from all over the UK to enjoy one of the country’s outstanding traditions. The crowds turned out in the thousands, and for good reason; Popular weekend festivities include a floating parade sponsored by international and local companies, diamond bands and extravagant costumes with colorful feathers, beads and precious stones. Soca, calypso and heavy bass systems can be heard all weekend long throughout the area, while the smell of jerk pits wafts into the air and stomach rumbles.
The end of World War II saw thousands of Caribbean residents migrate from the islands to the United Kingdom to help rebuild the country’s workforce and economy, many of them settling in north and southwest London. Unfortunately, many were subjected to racial harassment, culminating in the Notting Hill Race riots of 1958.
Political activist and Trinidadian Claudia Jones played a key role in creating the Notting Hill Carnival as an event to celebrate the culture and contributions of the Caribbean people in the United Kingdom and to encourage unity in an area of London heavily influenced by racism. Since then, the Notting Hill Carnival has become an annual event. Carnival culture has expanded beyond London to other cities across the United Kingdom; St Paul’s Carnival has been held in Bristol since 1968, and Manchester Carnival began in 1970, both of which began after similar stories of racial tension.
Despite the dark history that supports the origins of the carnival, the events are known for being scenes of joy, celebration, and positive energy. After the last two years of global uncertainty due to COVID, and the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020, the return of Notting Hill Carnival and Carnival will undoubtedly provide national-level events to attendees with some much-needed and well-needed catharsis. Afro-Caribbean communities across the UK.
An integral part of the Carnival culture, whether in Notting Hill or St Paul’s, is the range of Caribbean foods available. Street vendor stalls will line the roads for miles, from restaurants to catering companies, serving food and drink throughout the weekend. You’ll usually find a lot of Jerk chicken in rolls or boxes alongside rice, peas, plantain and cole slaw. Or goat or chicken curry with roti, as well as fresh coconut and sugar cane.
Notting Hill Carnival’s street food culture has become as popular as music and entertainment with some stall owners becoming staples each year. One of those is Levi Roots, a musician and culinary entrepreneur who spent his younger years immersed in carnival culture, helping his aunt prepare chicken and fish for her food stall. Notting Hill Carnival is cited as having a strong influence on his character today. This year, Levy will take over as nationwide chairman of the St Paul’s Carnival in Bristol where, well before that, Dragon’s LairHe sold his famous reggae sauce to the audience.
“The spirit of the carnival revolves around the food and the kitchen,” he said. delish, referring to the many different cuisines now on offer from Latin America, East Asia, and beyond. However, Caribbean favorites made the mold, according to Levy: “Your spicy chicken with rice and peas, classic curry goats and roti—they are the heartbeat of Carnival.”
Jerk Chicken in particular is a weekend staple, Levy tells us. “You just eat it and eat it…that’s what people wanted; for food they can eat on the go. Jerk Chicken is a classic for that. Seeing a jerky frying pan, a barbecue, a Caribbean…Natural smoke cooking should be a part of it.”
The thing that makes Carnival’s Caribbean street food so special is the love behind it. Levi tells us that a lot of the stalls are family run, and so “You feel like you’re still eating it at someone’s house or someone is cooking for you…They cook it home style. And I think that’s the beauty of it.”
So, if you’re heading to this year’s Carnival, whether it’s Notting Hill or St Paul’s—which Levi tells us will be “backyard-style and more about St Paul’s” this year, make sure you go on an empty stomach.
In the meantime, we’ve shared some of our favorite Caribbean recipes to help you reinvent the flavors of Carnival, right at home, thanks to the folks behind you. original flava, Sean and Craig McCanoff: