Million expected for 'best ever' Notting Hill carnival

Notting Hill carnival has always celebrated the strength and spirit of diversity.  Photo / Heather Rai
Notting Hill carnival has always celebrated the strength and spirit of diversity. Photo / Heather Rai

In the paper-strewn hall of Fox Primary School, children, teenagers and some adults are decorating brushes and sticking ribbons on to mops.

"They've brought them from home; they've brought them from pound shops; they've brought all battered ones," says Fiona Hawthorne, artistic director of this self-proclaimed "maverick mas[querade] band". "The theme is about brushing off insults and brushing away litter and sweeping out crime - children taking a stance in a fun way."

In Notting Hill in London, it's carnival time again.

More than a million people are expected to descend on west London today and tomorrow for the annual event that brings musicians, dancers and partygoers on to the streets.

But for those who have attended every carnival for the past 30-odd years, there is something indefinable in the air this time, something that builds on the momentum of London's proudly multicultural summer and makes Hawthorne think this carnival is going to be the best ever.

"We're really going to enjoy celebrating being in London 2012."

The script could not be more different from that of last August.

Then, in a city shaken by the worst riots in a generation, the Notting Hill carnival was approached with apprehension. As the first big public event since the violence, it was a test for the police, for the organisers and for London itself.

This year the city has hosted an Olympic Games, and in doing so it has celebrated what the Notting Hill carnival has always celebrated: the strength and spirit of diversity.

- Observer

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