The Notting Hill Carnival has been a highlight of London’s summer calendar since 1966, when the local Caribbean community first took to the streets with their steel pans. Since then, it’s grown to become the largest street festival in Europe, attracting hundreds of thousands of people who are all drawn by the incredible parade performers, technicolour costumes and legendary sound systems. Notting Hill Carnival 2022 is being held from 27-29 August, but as well as the weekend celebrations, some of the capital’s top cultural institutions are holding their own events – here are the ones that are not to be missed.
Notting Hill Carnival 2022:
The unmissable cultural events
Carnival Culture in the Park
17, 19 & 20 August
The perennially popular Opera Holland Park will be hosting a carnival takeover this year, bringing a festival of calypso, steelpan and Caribbean jazz to the open-air theatre. Held in partnership with Kensington and Chelsea Festival, the performances will showcase the best in both traditional and contemporary Caribbean musicians, celebrating the culture and heritage of Carnival through music. Kicking off with an evening featuring London’s finest steel bands, you can also expect Caribbean jazz from the Engine Room Collective and a night with David Rudder, one of the top calypsonians of our time.
Ilchester Place, Holland Park, London W8 6LU
In the Black Fantastic at the Southbank Centre
Until 18 September
This blockbuster exhibition at the Southbank Centre is the UK’s first major show dedicated to the work of Black artists who use fantastical elements to address racial injustice. Inspired by the Hayward Gallery’s show of the same name, In The Black Fantastic is a multi-artform event featuring outdoor installations, music, literature, poetry and performance, making it the perfect cultural spot to visit ahead of Carnival weekend. Keep an eye on the Riverside Terrace Stage, which is hosting free DJ takeovers and live music throughout the summer.
Belvedere Road, Southbank, London SE1 8XX
Black Power Women of Brixton Walk
Until 18 September
If you fancy learning a bit more about Black civil rights in London, sign up for this informative walk. Led by public historian and Blue Badge Guide Kelly Foster, the Black Power Women of Brixton Walk will reveal how Black women in Britain fought for equal rights just as hard as their American counterparts, covering everything from the Black Panther Women of Brixton and how the British school system made Black children ‘Educationally Sub Normal’, to the legendary 50s newspaper publisher and campaigner Claudia Jones, known to be the founding mother of the Notting Hill Carnival.
Meeting spot to be revealed
Saturday 27 August
This family-friendly event held at Emslie Horniman Pleasance Park in North Kensington marks the return of the country’s largest and most important steel pan competition. The Panorama annual steel band competition which began in 1963 in Trinidad and Tobago, came to London in 1978 and is famously associated with Kensal Road in North Kensington. Book a ticket to see five titans of UK steel bands battle it out to be crowned Panorama Champions 2022 (the current title holders, Mangrove Steelband, are the ones to beat), while soaking up plenty of Carnival atmosphere courtesy of Caribbean food stalls and top DJs.
Emslie Horniman Pleasance Park, Kensal Road, North Kensington, London W10 5EG
Black Cultural Archives
Situated on Windrush Square in Brixton, which was renamed in 1998 to recognise the important contribution of the African Caribbean community to the area and to mark the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the HMT Empire Windrush, the Black Cultural Archives is a brilliant place to come and learn about the capital’s Black history. They have plenty of archives dedicated to the roots and origins of the Notting Hill Carnival, as well as important guides devoted to Black arts and the Black women’s movement, as well as key uprisings, protests and campaigns.
1 Windrush Square, Brixton, London SW2 1EF