Have you ever wondered when and how this experience is lived in England?
Carnival is a colourful and lively festival celebrated in different parts of the world, where people's imagination takes over and they transform themselves, even if only for a few hours, into other people or characters. Although they share the same concept, it's not celebrated in the same way in all countries.
In this article, we explore the Carnival from a different perspective, immersing ourselves in the way this celebration merges with the cultural diversity of England (those of you who have taken an English course in London have a head start, because you probably already know about it!)
Fancy dresses: since Victorian festivals...
To learn about the origins of this celebration, let's go back to the 19th century, in the splendour of the Victorian era. The Victorians didn't celebrate Carnival as we know it today, but they were very fond of farce and dance, so at the parties the attendees took the opportunity to dress up in their best clothes and costumes.
The fancy dress was not a costume per se, but an elaborate, luxurious and eye-catching outfit. The ladie's favourite dresses were the She-devil, the Peasant girl and the Marquise Madame Pompadour. Gentlemen's favourites were Mephistotle, Moorish and Harlequin.
...to the Notting Hill Carnival
Every year since 1966, during the last weekend in August, London is transformed into a spectacle with the famous Notting Hill Carnival. It's a celebration with Afro-Caribbean roots and is one of the most culturally significant events. The origin of the festival dates back to the 19th century with the abolition of slavery in the former British colony of Trinidad and Tobago. The previously enslaved people went out to celebrate their freedom with music, dancing and costumes parodying the customs of the Europeans.
At the time, British society was suffering the consequences of racism and xenophobia under the slogan "Keep Britain White". The Afro-Caribbean population came together to commemorate this carnival and to show the British people that immigrants were honest, peaceful and hard-working people. The festival is celebrated in the Notting Hill neighbourhood because a large number of Caribbean families used to live there.
This carnival is based on enjoying the culture in the streets with parades, floats, live music, choreographies and gastronomic stalls. They are grouped according to country of origin to enjoy different musical genres: reggae, ska, dub, samba, afrobeat, soul, etc. The party starts on Saturday night, Sunday is dedicated to children, and on Monday the main parade takes place. If you are thinking of doing an English course in London... This party is one more motivation to decide to go!
In conclusion, Carnival in England offers a fascinating and unique perspective on this global celebration. Through the fusion of cultures, the celebration of identity and constant innovation. And as long as it continues to be celebrated, we will continue to contribute to the manifestation of cultural diversity and human creativity.