23 Aug Enjoy the Summer Bank Holiday at Notting Hill Carnival!
The year seems to have just flown by, with the August Summer bank holiday no longer a distant date in the future, it’s time to start planning ahead to ensure this sun-drenched, sultry, joyful day, spent with family or friends, is enjoyed to its fullest. London’s thrilling Notting Hill Carnival is not to be missed, an annual event traditionally held on August’s bank holiday weekend, this celebration of Caribbean diasporic communities, their culture and traditions, makes for a fantastic day out.
Where and What?
Heralded as one of the world’s largest street carnivals, only second to Brazil’s Rio Carnival,1 Notting Hill Carnival is a community-led event, which stretches across two days – this year the dates are the Sunday 25th and Monday 26th August. The Carnival is free(!), spreading itself throughout areas of West London, including Notting Hill, Ladbroke Grove and Westbourne Park,2 featuring a whole host of captivating activities, such as their vividly colourful parades. A Children’s Parade on Sunday, the highlight of the quieter, family-friendly Sunday, showcases the delights of children dancing and performing in sparklingly costumes, and kid-inspired floats. The Grande Finale Parade is held on the Monday, which embraces a more ‘party’ atmosphere, along with unbelievable live music performances, static sound systems, steel bands, mas bands (‘mas’—short for masquerade—bands are at the heart of the Carnival, where elaborate and vibrant costumes marry with music, dance, spectators and judges), and the mouth-watering aroma of delicious Caribbean food.
Notting Hill Carnival is considered to be the brainchild of Claudia Jones, a Trinidadian human rights activist, feminist and journalist in London, who, following the 1958 Notting Hill race riots against the African-Caribbean diasporic communities living in the area at the time, organised an indoor carnival to ‘quell racial hatred through music and dance’. 3 Having planted the seed, in 1966, Rhaune Laslett organised the first outdoor festival in Notting Hill, bringing ‘the unique sound and energy of the Caribbean to the streets of London’.4
Visitors to the Carnival are encouraged to immerse themselves in the delights of Caribbean culture, to celebrate alongside the community, with bright and colourful costumes and outfits, so make sure you don’t forget yours!
There are also other more practical ways in which you can prepare yourself for this exciting day out, such as making sure you have packed appropriately for the weather, especially as the weather this summer seems to be fluctuating between ‘hot, sweaty and sticky’, and ‘rain, rain and rain’.
If the sun is a beaming, glorious presence throughout the day, then you must be prepared for your body’s overenthusiastic intake of Vitamin D and protect yourself (and your children) from the harmful effects of too much sun! A high-factor sun cream is a must-have to protect your skin (and you children’s skin) from getting burnt and peeling. Make sure to reapply it frequently and generously. Keeping yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water is also hugely important, especially if you’re going to be indulging in ‘all-things-rum’ alcoholic beverages, as alcohol further dehydrates you. You don’t want to spoil the magic that is Carnival by feeling lightheaded and tired.
With so many people expected to attend this lively celebration of London’s multicultural community, the atmosphere is sure to be humid and sweaty. Sweat can make those suffering from eczema, and other dry skin conditions, painfully itchy.5 If you’re trying to immerse yourself in London’s Caribbean culture, you really don’t want to be constantly itching, leaving red, inflamed rashes on your skin. One way to combat this is to have a small flannel handy to remove excess sweat and use AproDerm® Colloidal Oat Cream to cool your skin, help with the itch and keep it moisturised. Wearing loose clothing is also an effective way of combating the effects of heat and sweat!
Lastly, there are ways in which you can protect your skin once you’re home too after being in the sun all day. A quick, cool (but not cold!) shower will rinse off any remaining sweat and keep you cool. However, showers can also dry out your skin further, so to avoid this, use AproDerm® Colloidal Oat Cream or AproDerm® Emollient Cream, which, as soap substitutes, will clean your skin without further dehydrating it. You should also apply an emollient after your shower to skin that is still slightly wet, to lock in all that valuable moisture and keep your skin hydrated for hours later.
If this blog has convinced you to spend your bank holiday weekend exploring the wonders of Caribbean culture, my last advice is, try not to stick to a regimented list of things to do. It’s good to be prepared, but the magic of the Carnival comes from the unlikeliest of sources, so in other words, go with the flow!
1 Notting Hill Carnival. (2019). Notting Hill Carnival. [online] Available at: https://nhcarnival.org/#/936691967557/ [Accessed 22 Aug. 2019].
2 Time Out London. (2019). Notting Hill Carnival guide. [online] Available at: https://www.timeout.com/london/things-to-do/notting-hill-carnival-guide [Accessed 22 Aug. 2019].
3 Articles, A. (2019). Notting Hill Carnival: a first-timer’s guide. [online] Lonely Planet. Available at: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/articles/notting-hill-carnival-first-timers [Accessed 22 Aug. 2019].
4 Notting Hill Carnival. (2019). Steel bands — Notting Hill Carnival. [online] Available at: https://nhcarnival.org/steel-bands [Accessed 22 Aug. 2019].
5 Yosipovitch G, e. (2019). Itch characteristics in Chinese patients with atopic dermatitis using a new questionnaire for the assessment of pruritus. – PubMed – NCBI. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12031029 [Accessed 22 Aug. 2019].