Every year Notting Hill in West London hosts one of the best carnivals outside of Rio. It’s a two-day celebration of Caribbean and Latin culture: dance and music are at centre stage, with an impressive array of sound systems scattered across the neighbourhood pumping out the freshest sounds and the local samba schools decked out in their peacock finest to parade and strut down the streets.
This year Ingla travelled with its students from our home base in North London to catch the sights, sounds, and tastes of the Notting Hill Carnival and to get immersed in a uniquely London experience.
The Brazilian samba schools were especially impressive with their professional-calibre choreography and stunning feathered costumes. Inglans enjoyed every minute of the parade, and then we headed deeper into Notting Hill to find some authentic Caribbean food.
The rest of the afternoon was filled with dancing and getting to know more about the rich culture of the Caribbean, and giving our students a real taste of London.
Food plays an integral part too, with dozens of food vendors hawking everything from jerk chicken to saltfish and ackee and goat curry – a real smorgasbord of Caribbean flavours.
We set off on a windy, cold Monday morning with a small, enthusiastic group and, within an hour, we were in the middle of a bright, vibrant, enthusiastic crowd of revellers having the time of their life. Inglans got caught up in the mood, taking photos, laughing and smiling, and dancing to the rhythms as every float, dancer, and stilt walker passed by.
Winding through the crowds we discovered dancers from the parade, still in full costume, taking photos with the carnival-goers so we joined in too. On the way, heaping helpings of jerk chicken with rice and peas were on the menu, so we stopped to fill ourselves up.