Don't miss Notting Hill Carnival

Each August Bank Holiday the Notting Hill Carnival takes to the streets of London. It has become the largest festival celebration of its kind anywhere in Europe. There will be twenty miles of vibrant colourful costumes, over 40 sound systems and hundreds of food stalls along the route. It takes over 40,000 volunteers to man the event that now boasts an attendance of a million Notting Hill carnival revellers.

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It all began as a local festival set up by the West Indian community of Notting Hill. It has now become an internationally famous Caribbean carnival, attracting millions of visitors from all over the world. Dozens of astonishing floats glide along the streets to the sounds of the traditional steel drum bands and massive sound systems. Sample all manner of foods as you party on throughout the day. This is what has made Notting Hill Carnival arguably London's most exciting annual event.

It is hard to imagine that when it all started in 1965 it was just a small gathering of 500 people. The Notting Hill Carnival was influenced by black immigrants from the Caribbean, especially Trinidad, who became concerned about racial tensions in the area as well low standards of living and lack of career opportunities for members of their community.

The Notting Hill Carnival has grown vastly in size since then and is now an important income for London's economy. Each year the festival generates more than £100 million. Crowds pack the streets as far as the eye can see. It is estimated that more than one million hours go into making the costumes and plumes and 30 million sequins are used by costume makers.

The usual route for the Notting Hill Carnival is a loop around West London. It begins on Great Western Road, and then moves along Chepstow Road, on to Westbourne Grove and then Ladbroke Grove. In all there are more than 70 performing units that keep the party going all day long at this memorable event.

The Notting Hill Carnival usually gets under way on the Saturday with the steel band competition. Sunday is Kids' Day, when the costume prizes are awarded.

The Notting Hill Carnival dates for 2010 are August 29th and 30th.