Leslie Palmer, Notting Hill Carnival Pioneers Festival 2019. Photo Credit: Gina Zappia Photography

Notting Hill Carnival Pioneers Festival back after a three-year absence

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The Notting Hill Carnival Pioneers Festival is set to resume on Sunday 13 August after a three-year hiatus due to Covid-19 restrictions. The tenth anniversary of the community festival will be held at Emslie Horniman’s Pleasance, Kensal Road W10, and will take place from 12pm until 8pm.

This year’s festival is particularly honouring 80-year-old Leslie Palmer. Fifty years ago, Mr Palmer became an active organiser of the carnival and helped introduce music, food, and drink to the festivities. He also made the event more inclusive, incorporating wider British and Caribbean culture, such as the sound systems of Jamaica.

The history of Carnival in London began in the late 1950s, when Trinidadian social activist Claudia Jones came up with the idea of holding a Caribbean carnival. She organised the event, which was broadcast live by the BBC, at the St. Pancras Town Hall in 1959. Seven years later, in 1966, social worker Rhaune Laslett threw a neighbourhood party at a playground near Westbourne Park Station in an effort to bring together the community after the racially-motivated murder of Antiguan carpenter Kelso Cochrane. The party featured a band playing steel drums and activities such as dominoes, darts, and bingo. From this seed, Notting Hill Carnival grew.

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Leslie Palmer, who is also the founder of the Notting Hill Carnival Pioneers Festival, is eager to honour the efforts of his predecessors who ensured the survival and flourishing of diverse art forms. This year’s festival will feature performances from Winston Francis, Lord Suffer, Sir Coxsone, One Love, Trishana, Portobello Choir, Prince of Judah, Pan Diva, and local radio station, Portobello Radio.

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