Thursday, September 28

‘Two worlds brought together’: Notting Hill carnival shakes up Glastonbury | Glastonbury 2022

‘For 50 years, these festivals have been running side by side – and this is the first time they have coincided.” The words of Notting Hill carnival host DJ Nassen were met with rapturous applause on Thursday afternoon as thousands gathered to join Glastonbury’s first ever Notting Hill carnival procession.

“These are the two most important cultural events in England – it’s long overdue!” he added, summing up the mood of the huge crowds lining the parade route.

Notting Hill carnival is one of the largest street festivals in the world. The Caribbean music and dance event, held annually in London since it first coalesced in 1966, attracts an average of more than two million people and is expected to see twice that number in August when it returns after a three-year hiatus.

It is partnering with Glastonbury for the first time this year, as both events welcome back punters in person for the first time since 2019.

‘An amazing curtain-raiser’ … Notting Hill carnival at Glastonbury 2022. Photograph: Alicia Canter/The Guardian

Glastonbury organizer Emily Eavis said in a statement: “I’ve always loved Notting Hill carnival, especially during my years living round the corner in west London, and there have been so many connections with Glastonbury over the years. It’s a dream to finally bring some of the very fine crew here.”

The procession, held on day one of Glastonbury, was visible across the whole south-east of the site, featuring its trademark mix of flamboyant costumes, vibrant colours, Caribbean dancers, stilt walker moko jumbies – and, for this event, a large truck in the shape of a beetle.

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The parade also comprised Mangrove – eight-time winners of the Panorama steel band championship – and an all-electric float bearing a booming sound system.

“Altogether, we’ve got 50 participants here with us today, including the steel band, dancers, DJ and crew,” said head of logistics Niall Green.

In keeping with the Glastonbury spirit, Green explained the effort the team is putting into making climate awareness an integral part of the event. “We want to make carnival as green as possible,” he said.

“Food traders and sound systems at most festivals use diesel generators, and we’re trying to move away from that. This procession is entirely emission-free. Ultimately, we’d like to be entirely sustainable, right down to getting everyone using reusable cups.”

Inclusivity is equally as vital to the team as eco-credentials. “It’s important for Glasto to work on its diversity and we’re really happy to be a part of that,” Green concluded, as the procession meandered down the path from Block9, the sprawling late-night party zone, to West Holts and back again, for a dance party that lasted till sundown.

Reveller Matt Gibbs, dancing beside the float, said he felt the crowds at each event had often differed from one another. “Glasto and carnival are two different worlds and the participants belong to two different cultures,” he said, before adding: “By bringing them together, they each add so much to the other.”

Notting Hill carnival performers at Glastonbury festival 2022.
‘What Glastonbury is all about’ … Notting Hill carnival performers at Glastonbury festival 2022. Photograph: Alicia Canter/The Guardian

Friends Keisha Ffrench and Karenza Cutting had stumbled across the carnival accidentally. “I had no idea this would be here! We’re going to the main event in August and this is an amazing curtain-raiser,” Ffrench said.

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“Black communities are underrepresented at Glastonbury and events like this will help address that,” she noted, referencing Lenny Henry’s comments last week regarding the festival’s lack of diversity.

The collaboration has proven extremely popular with punters. Maraid McEwan, enjoying the festivities from the West Holts staging area, said this had been her “favorite part of Glastonbury so far by a huge margin” and reflected that the sense of community and inclusivity is “what Glastonbury is all about”.

Linda Warhouse, from Nottingham, agreed. “This has been a major highlight – it’s amazing to see people from all backgrounds and ethnicities dancing together.”

Meanwhile dancer Giselle Carter, from Gemz Mas International, said she was “so, so happy to be back” after the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of in-person events. “This collaboration makes so much sense – Glastonbury and carnival share the same values.”

Matthew Phillip, chief executive of Notting Hill carnival, said he was “beyond delighted” by the reception he and his team had been met with.

In an earlier statement, he said: “The heritage and history of Notting Hill carnival is hugely important to the British cultural landscape in many of the same ways as Glastonbury, they hold many of the same beliefs and represent the country on a global scale. ”

Put another way, as DJ Nassen observed towards the end of the parade: “Whether you’re from Ladbroke Grove or Somerset, music unites us all.”

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