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Festivals: Notting Hill Carnival

Type: Reference material

Groups of people from all over the world emigrated to the UK after the Second World War. Included in this were immigrants from the Caribbean. The carnival tradition was very strong in this part of the world, especially in Trinidad. 

During the 1950s, living conditions, the lack of work opportunities and racism affected many of the local communities. There were widespread racial attacks in 1958 and so the following year, a group of West Indian locals organized a Caribbean-style carnival through the streets of London. The first Notting Hill Carnival actually took place inside St Pancras Town Hall.

The carnival moved outside in 1965 when approximately 1,000 people attended. Over the years, the carnival grew in popularity and, in 1976, 150,000 people attended. Unfortunately, riots between the young black population and the police over the next few years meant that fears grew for the future of the carnival. It was not banned and the troubles stopped. The Notting Hill Carnival is now one of the biggest carnivals in Europe and has become a huge celebration of multicultural arts, music and dance with around two million people attending it every year.

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