IT’S CARNIVAL TIME: Notting Hill Carnival returns for its 49th annual celebration

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NOTTING HILL Carnival officially launched last night ahead of the two-day street festival that takes place annually in west London every August Bank Holiday.

Steel pan legends, calypsonians, mas bands and other key stakeholders gathered at the St Lucia High Commission, in west London, to officially open the cultural celebration’s calendar of events.

This year’s patron is Dr Ernest Hilaire, St Lucia’s High Commissioner to the UK, who welcomed guests to the building in Collingham Gardens. It once belonged to the West Indies Federation as a home for West Indian students between 1958 and 1962 before being acquired by St Lucia and Dominica who share the space.

Officially declaring Notting Hill Carnival open, Dr Hilaire said with a laugh: “In many ways, carnival ways defines our personalities as West Indians: the way we live life, celebrate and, sometimes, the way we misbehave.”

The carnival is organised by the London Notting Hill Carnival Enterprises Trust (LNHCET) with support from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Greater London Authority (GLA) and the Met Police.

In his welcome address, legendary pan man Augustine ‘Pepe’ Francis MBE, the interim chairman of LNHCET, said the trust has been working hard to ensure the event continued to be sustainable with a focus on education and entrepreneurship.

He also introduced this year’s carnival theme.

Francis said: “In 2014, Lancet celebrated the golden jubilee of the steel pan – which is my celebration. In 2015, we represent the second signature of LNHCET’S tri-celebration towards the 50th anniversary of the London Notting Hill Carnival in 2016.

“This year commemorates the emergence of carnival as a tribute to diversity and the power of carnival arts and its links to the evolution of London; a unique tapestry woven and created by economic, social and political issues which over the years have been overpowered by the dynamic features of arts and culture.”

He added: “The artistic cultural dynamism harnessed by Rhaune Laslett to empower the cosmopolitan community in promoting heritage of the people fostering the integration of cultures…today continues to embrace the uniqueness of Caribbean culture embellished by other cultures.”

Festivities start on Saturday, August 29, with the annual clash of the steel pans, called Panorama, held in Emslie Horniman Pleasance Park, Bosworth Road.

The following day is the traditional carnival parade through the streets of west London, designated as Family Day ahead of the main event on Monday.

This year an additional event – an awards ceremony – will be held on November 7, to pay tribute to the 2015 winners as well as those who contributed to the development and sustainability of the London Notting Hill Carnival.

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