Here at the BIRD’s nest, carnival is a pretty big deal. Located as we are in the heart of Notting Hill, each August sees the streets come alive with vibrant jewel colours and soca sounds, the air heavy with the scent of jerk spices. Set to celebrate its 50th anniversary this bank holiday weekend, Notting Hill carnival offers a unique blend of cultures and senses in the heart of West London. Fancy a dance in toastier climes? Here are five of the best carnival experiences across the globe…
Rio de Janeiro
The biggest party on the planet, carnival sees Rio explode with sound and colour, as millions of people descend upon the city for five days of madness. Street parties, or blocas, fill every corner of the city for weeks before, whilst the main event sees huge crowds lining the Sambodromo, where the city’s best samba schools strut their stuff.
There’s a fierce rivalry between Trinidad and Rio, with each claiming the longest carnival history. Trinidad has a unique island rhythm, with a hectic 2 day carnival which celebrates the island nation’s unique cultural and demographic diversity. Line your stomach with an Indian influenced ‘double’ stuffed with spiced chickpeas and mango chutney, before launching full throttle into the mud-throwing, bass pumping, feather-bedecked madness of Carnival.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife
The largest carnival outside Rio sees the city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife filled with bright lights, colourful costumes and dancing. On Ash Wednesday, the people of Santa Cruz de Tenerife come together to celebrate the entierro de la sardina (burial of the sardine) as a giant papier mache sardine is carried in a funeral procession through the town, giving the carnival a quirky and uniquely Spanish twist.
Colombia’s most important folkloric carnival, Carnaval de Barranquilla dates back to the 19th century. Situated on Colombia’s Caribbean coast and combining influences from the Spanish paloteo to African congo and indigenous mico y micas, the carnival sees 1.5 million revellers come together to celebrate the nation’s unique fusion of cultures in a riot of sounds, colours and flavours.
We couldn’t list the most iconic carnivals without including our home party. Notting Hill Carnival is a London institution – the weekend where the city comes together to drink, dance and feast as one, celebrating the West Indian heritage of London’s northwest. Lose all inhibitions as you sup on a red stripe jelly coconut, rediscover your annual love for salt cod and callaloo and dance away through the last of the summer sun. The ultimate bank holiday party.