From the ’60s to the present, here’s a round up of five top facts about the world-famous street party
1. It had its roots in the ’50s
The history of Notting Hill Carnival is more disputed than drilling rights in Antarctica. Some credit the exiled American Claudia Jones as the Godmother of mas (a word, derived from ‘masquerade’, that describes the parade and its bands). She hosted a party in St Pancras Town Hall in 1959 in response to the riots of the previous year. But it was Rhaune Laslett – an activist of Native American descent– who organised the first Notting Hill Fayre and Pageant on the streets of W11 in 1965.
2. It inspired The Clash
Carnival’s popularity mushroomed and in 1976 a more organised approach – including an increase in police – was put into action. Yet that year’s event ended in such pandemonium that Joe Strummer was moved to pen ‘White Riot’.
3. It’s where dance producers cut their teeth
Another song beginning with a police siren that’s synonymous with Carnival is ‘Original Nuttah’ by Shy FX. The jungle anthem could be heard everywhere in 1994 and took the genre overground. Carnival is still the place to hear the sounds bubbling up in urban London.
4. Our future King is a fan
Carnival is forever in a state of flux that keeps it agreeably edgy, and yet it’s worth £100 million to London’s economy. Small wonder, then, that Prince Charles is among the high-profile names to support it.
5. Chutney ain’t always chutney
A little bit of sin is no bad thing, and Carnival is a paradise for gluttons. Revellers get through a ton of rice and peas, 16,000 coconuts, 400 goats, 10,000 litres of Jamaican stout and 25,000 bottles of rum. If you hear someone mentioning chutney, however, they’ll most likely be referring to the Bollywood-infused strand of soca music that you’ll be hearing a lot of at Carnival 2012. Chris Parkin
To find out more about this year’s carnival, see timeout.com/notting-hill-carnival.