For more than four decades Hackney has been finding good reasons to celebrate on the streets. It is believed that the first carnival in Hackney took place in 1973, since when it has had various names, including Hackney Mare de Gras.
The latest version, Hackney Carnival, was set up by 15 carnival groups in 2008, facilitated by the current creative director, Pax Nindi. Hackney Council, which provides financial support, is the sole producer of the event, working with the Creative Director and the event management company, Sygma.
Described as “an exuberant celebration of local creativity and diversity”, the carnival takes place every year on the second Sunday in September. Over the past four years it has grown very fast and was recently described by Metro as “the secret alternative to Notting Hill Carnival”, while Time Out last year put Hackney Carnival on its top 10 events to go to in London.
The Carnival hosts four sound systems, two children’s zones, a live stage and stalls around Ridley Road Market and a vibrant parade featuring 1,000 local participants, including visiting groups from Notting Hill Carnival and Milton Keynes. On the live stage, the headline act is Black Slate, the reggae legends who started their career in Hackney.
Today from 1.30pm will see more than 20 groups set off from Haggerston Park. The judging point is outside the Town Hall and the parade finishes back at Haggerston Park.