It’s that time of year when many of us would be getting ready to hit the streets of west London for a huge celebration of Caribbean culture at Notting Hill Carnival.
But as with many social gatherings due to take place this summer, Covid-19 means things won’t be going ahead as planned. And, for the first time since its launch in 1965, the carnival won’t happen as usual.
Instead, it will take place digitally, so there will still be a chance to enjoy the sights and sounds of carnival in a slightly different capacity.
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Here’s everything you need to know about Notting Hill Carnival 2020.
When is the Notting Hill Carnival?
This year a digital Carnival is taking place on the Saturday 29, Sunday 30 and Monday 31 August.
As usual, this falls on the final bank holiday weekend of the year.
How can I watch it?
While normally thousands of people would be hitting the streets to enjoy the stream of parade floats, dance along to soca music, eat tasty food, enjoy a few drinks and generally soak up the carnival vibes, it is perhaps unsurprising that this won’t be possible with social distancing measures.
But the organisers are keen for people to still enjoy the carnival experience, albeit in a digital way.
The event will kick off with a countdown film at Piccadilly Circus on the big screens at 7am on Friday.
People will then be able to stream a variety of live and pre-recorded carnival online content to their screens, split across four channels. As always, it’s free.
After registering online via website Let’s GoDo, you can access all the content online over the weekend.
What is the line-up across the channels?
Channel one: Culture
Steel bands have always been a key sound of carnival and this year is no exception. On Saturday at 6pm, this channel will feature performances from a variety of steel bands recorded at The Royal Albert Hall & The Theatre Royal Haymarket, from Ebony Steelband, Endurance Steelband, Mangrove Steelband and more.
From 9pm to midnight, there will be pre-recorded performances as part of the A.C.A.S.A Calypso & Groovy Soca Monarch Competition – viewers can vote for their favourite via the NHC app.
On Sunday and Monday from 9am to 12pm, there will be interviews and chats with those who have been involved in carnival since its early days.
The sessions, hosted by Aurie Styla & Claire Clottey, will celebrate the event’s rich heritage.
Viewers can also expect a soca workout, some carnival poetry and at 10am, a digital cook-along and cocktail making session.
Channel two: Parade
The floats, costumes, and vibrant processions around London’s streets are a key element of the carnival and that’s exactly what this channel will be dedicated to.
On Sunday and Monday from 12pm to 8pm, this channel will be bringing Mas bands, steelbands & Brazilian bands to our screens.
As usual, Sunday will be children’s day, with the channel focusing on the young performers taking part, while adults take over on Monday.
The winners of the A.C.A.S.A Calypso and Groovy Soca Monarch Competition will be announced on this channel, and their performances will be replayed.
Channel three: Sound systems
The booming bass of the carnival is another reason people love the event, gathering around an array of sound systems pumping out beats on the streets.
Channel three will bring the sounds to your home letting viewers dance away in their living rooms instead, from 12pm to 8pm on both Sunday and Monday.
Capital Xtra DJs Ras Kwame and Shayna Marie will host the show from 12pm – 4pm with BBC Radio 1Xtra’s Nadia Jae & Reece Parkinson taking over from 4pm – 8pm.
Channel four: Main stage
Carnival has influences from around the world and this channel will pay homage to many of these, as well as artists right here in the UK.
Streaming from 8pm to 11pm and hosted by DJ Ace & Remel London, on Sunday channel four will see performances from international artists from countries including Jamaica, Nigeria, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Jamaica and Grenada.
At the same time on Monday, UK artists will take centre stage.
How else can I get involved?
Spotify will also be dedicating its music streaming platform to carnival sounds over the weekend.
There will be a series of playlists filled with carnival music, as well as the music of 42 sound systems that would usually fill the streets of Notting Hill.
The platform will also have a series of podcasts available, looking deeper at the culture, history and music of the event across its 54 years.
Many enjoy a drink over the weekend, and the organisers have thought of this too and have joined forces with Craft Rum Box. The rum club company is selling a variety of “carnival essentials boxes”, which include combinations of drinks and snacks such as rum and punch, plantain chips and jerk seasoning paste, to recreate the tastes of carnival at home.
There is also Carnival 2020 merchandise and a commemorative magazine available for sale.
Additionally, there is an official NHC app that you can download from Apple App Store or Google Play.
The complete guide to NHC 2020 can be found at nhcarnival.org.