Carnival Day

A heavy shower at Carnival in 2010

Yesterday I was thinking I might go along to London’s greatest street festival, the Notting Hill Carnival, today. Then I looked at the weather forecast and decided against it. The carnival will still go on and there might be some interesting images in the wet, but the forecast is for continuing heavy rain until 2am tomorrow (when it changes to just light rain with a possibility of heavy showers.)

Notting Hill, 2009

So today I’m going to forgo the Red Stripe and dancing on the streets, and tomorrow at least I will still have my hearing unimpaired.  Back when I used to spend both the Sunday and Monday at carnival it would take me three or four days to recover, and probably suffered a little long-term hearing loss. You don’t just hear some of those truly giant sound systems, you feel them in your feet as the tarmac pulses to the beat and in your body as your vital organs move with it. And you dance even as you take pictures.

Notting Hill, 2009

It wasn’t until 1991 that I first went to carnival. Living a little outside London I had been put off by the scare stories carried by the press about violence there, a few of them true. With perhaps a quarter of a million people packed onto the streets there were always a few incidents but in general the mood is mellow. People are there to enjoy themselves, but if you are careless with your wallet in any large crowd it can disappear.

I have my own little story, one year when I was in a crowd of dancers at a sound system just off Ladbroke Grove – which I wrote about last time I went to . Last year I was a few hundred miles away in Yorkshire over the holiday weekend and missed the event. It did seem very quiet up there.

Notting Hill, 2009

Other than 2013, the only other year I’ve not been to carnival was 2005, when a minor but very painful knee injury stopped me. I tried to get there, but by the time I’d dragged myself the quarter mile to my nearest railway station was in such pain I had to give up, resting for a while before managing to make my way home.

Notting Hill, 1990s

One of the first sets of pictures I put on-line were from carnival, and these are still there on a site called Fixing Shadows, and some of these were also in my contribution to an exhibition a few years ago, English Carnivals, which has rather improved scans.

Notting Hill, 2009

But in writing this piece, I discovered that somehow I’d never managed to put the pictures that I took on Childrens’ Day in 2009 onto My London Diary.

Notting Hill, 2009

I’ve also never added those from the following day when a few of us walked the 15 mile Epping Forest Centenary Walk – which you can do annually together with the Friends of Epping Forest (the 2014 walk is on Sunday 14 Sept) at a slightly more leisurely pace with less chance of getting lost and some explanatory talks en route. But perhaps I was just too tired after those 15 miles to put the work from the two days on-line. But included here are a few pictures from Notting Hill in 2009 that I’ve not posted before. All were taken on a DX format Nikon D300, mainly with a Nikon 18-200mm but some with a Sigma 10-20mm.


My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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