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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 August, 2003, 10:14 GMT 11:14 UK
Are you going to Notting Hill Carnival?
A million revellers are expected to squeeze through west London's residential streets for this weekend's Notting Hill Carnival.

After a year of planning and 9,750 police at the ready, carnival planner David Comption says the aim is for the street party to be "highly organised but appear totally spontaneous on the day."

Last year, 316,000 partygoers came to join in from outside London and 90,000 came from abroad.

Carnival has paraded through Notting Hill since 1964 and now has everything from hip hop, house and salsa to West African drumming, costumed masquerade bands, floats, steel bands, static sound systems, and two enormous live stages.

  • We'd like your photos from the centre of the action. You can e-mail them to us at yourpics@bbc.co.uk

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your e-mails. The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:

I moved from Maida Vale to Islington last June and the very best thing about it is I am no longer plagued by the Notting Hill Carnival. Although the Children's parade on Sundays used to be pleasant enough the whole of W2/W10/W9 is a no-go zone for non-attendees on the Monday, and trashed for the next few days after. Helicopters circle until 4.30am on the Tuesday, the streets are a sea of broken glass, and gangs of youths steam the shops for booze whilst the softly-softly coppers look on.
Squiz, Islington

I would love to see and hear a report on television one year that did not comment on the number of police and the cost of policing the event or the number of arrests made. When will they find more positive aspects of the event to report on? And to be frank, concentrating on the crime aspects of what is, in the main, a family event, smacks of racism, because it is an Afro-Caribbean event.
Louise, England

The crowds, attitude and fights were simply not worth it
James White, London, UK
Just got back from my first carnival, and must stay I'm very disappointed. I love the music, but the crowds, attitude and fights were simply not worth it. There are just simply too many people for too small a space.
James White, London, UK

When I lived in London I made an effort to attend the Carnival once. When growing up I would see the news report on Carnival Day, and thought "I'd love to be there". When I did make it in 2001, I tell you, it was not as great a time as I envisaged. Yes the costumes, the floats and the performers etc top class...but the crowd, sorry..the area could not cope with crowds..to be stationary for long periods in a sardine-like crowd, meant that the day was not the joyful experience I had hoped to be. Apart from the crowd being too much for the streets, I think Carnival is a great way for people to respect a culture.
Geraldine, Glasgow

I have been to the carnival twice. Those of you complaining don't know what the carnival is about. On the Sunday you can take the family, the Monday is for the hardcore....frankly it's the most fun thing you have going in Britain
Francis Ndikumwami, France

Been living in Praha for a while, nearly came back just for carnival... easily the best bank holiday in the UK... shame I cant be there...
Neil, UK, currently in Czech

The hard work and planning that goes into the 2nd biggest street party on earth should be commended
Haratio Smythe-Simpson, London, UK
I'm lucky enough to live in this area of London and I think the carnival is a great annual event. The hard work and planning that goes into the 2nd biggest street party on earth should be highly commended NOT CRITICISED!!!. The carnival is part of the London calendar and epitomises the rich diversity of our "World City".
Haratio Smythe-Simpson, London, UK

Were it not for the expense of these events with the tax payer picking up the bill, I would probably say live and let live. As it is I object to these events and think they should be held in those countries where it is an integral part of there culture. Let these party goers pay for their carnival, and leave off asking the likes of me to foot the bill.
Keith Harris , England

Keith Harris: Yes tax payers' money goes into organising the carnival, but around 300 million is spent by revellers going to the carnival, local economy benefits hugely. It's a great event where so many cultures come together, and yes it is now integral part of London's culture. Great work guys carry on, can't wait for next year.
Qadeer, England

I'm originally from Nottingham but I've lived in Mexico for a while now, and can't believe what a load of miserable people there are in Britain! Over here, there are loads of cultural community events (Carnival in February, Dances and feast days throughout the year) and nobody bats an eyelid and the majority are proud of their traditions (no matter how old they are). It's what makes Mexico so culturally rich. If only there were more events in Britain like the Notting Hill Carnival!
Dave Pye, Mexico

Disappointing. I went on Sunday and felt the parade had been hijacked by the 40 foot mobile sound systems. God knows what state the dancers' ears were in after being behind one of those for a few hours! As for the police presence - a guy collapsed next to me but it took several minutes before we could attract the attention of an official to summon medical attention. No, shall not be back.
Gordon, UK

As everything else, carnival has its good points and bad points. That's just life so it's best to enjoy the good while its here. So yes I will be going carnival.
Mary, UK

Carnival is a worn-out cliche, in a worn-out part of London. It's only purpose now is to provide an annual reason for some to trot out the same old complaints about noise, etc.. In the process, they are careful to notify us that they are 'residents of Notting Hill'. As if we care.
Ben, UK

Considering the size of the crowds, equivalent to 20 cup finals at the same time, crime is VERY low
Andrew, UK
I have been to every carnival since the first. Considering the size of the crowds, equivalent to 20 cup finals at the same time, crime is VERY low. However, football and West Indians do not have the same image and treatment in the media. If you go to carnival with nothing you cannot afford to lose, you need not fear muggings.
Andrew, UK

?5million for policing the event?? Who is paying this? Not, I presume the pensioners (through tax or council tax) of the region whose NHS trust can not afford them treatment! If it is funded by the carnival, then great, enjoy yourself, if not who is suffering for the enjoyment of so few?
Graham, UK

I also read somewhere that the carnival received - 130K + 60K, peanuts and frankly a sick joke when one consider that London's festival probably pumps more than 300 Million into the economy of London. It seems to me the Caribbean carnival community aren't using their economic muscle, and should think about boycotting London, unless they get proper funding just like everyone else who don't even have the same economic impact. As it is with the various Caribbean festivals around the world, they bring millions and millions to everyone except their community or themselves. Government should properly fund the festivals which would be better run and benefit everyone in the long run.
Kesri, Toronto Canada

I wouldn't miss it for the world - reminds me of home in the Caribbean and there's nothing else like it..
Cleo Lane, England

I live in Notting Hill and I think it's appalling how the place looks after the carnival every year. For day's I'm having to wade through fast food packaging and broken beer bottles, not to mention the urine soaked alleyways. Sorry, I escape from Notting Hill during the carnival
Andrea, UK

I don't mind the carnival, but it never feels safe and long since feels dated and forced.
Mohammed Aziz, UK
I'm nearly 24, and I've lived in Notting Hill all my life: I've watched the Carnival run from a fairly fun event in the 80's to a pointless damp squib once the mid 90's approached. The carnival initially came to, to make immigrant West Indians feel at home - most black people in this area were either born here or lived here a long time now. So, for a start the carnival should morph into something more culturally diverse. And then, there's the fact that there's always a tension whether violence erupts or not. Couple this with people who only come out solely to get pissed - I know as I live next to a pub. I don't mind the carnival, but it never feels safe and long since feels dated and forced.
Mohammed Aziz, UK

How can people talk about the carnival being a family event, when the reality of it revolves around happy revellers taking cocaine and ecstasy and being generally off their heads? is this what you want your children to experience?
Sarah Felgate, UK

"Are you going to Notting Hill Carnival?" -- I live in the North of England and the national public transport system is in tatters.
John King, England

I went a few times when I was a kid but not recently. If next year's the 40th anniversary I'll consider it. If some people are against big business moving in on Carnival though, then they need to be better organised throughout the year and not just about the costumes- if they leave the cleanup to the council for one thing, that's ammunition for people who want it scrapped.
Ken, England

I'd love to go, to admire the stunning costumes and drink in the atmosphere. Are British carnival goers really the riotous, thieving bunch they're made out to be, or do a small minority of cases hit the headlines and deter the more peaceful mass of genuine carnival lovers? Is it possible that a heavy police presence actually incites and possibly encourages violence by suggesting that such massive events are hotbeds of crime?
Melissa, UK

I have never been to the carnival but here in the north we have our very own version. One of the best family days out in the north, the procession shows the time and effort put in over the months before is well worth it, the music costumes and floats are truly amazing and you can't be human if it doesn't get your toes tapping and you hips moving, so if you don't fancy the London bank holiday traffic head to sunny Leeds.
Andrea Dring, Leeds, U.K.

The media attribute all crimes in the area over the whole weekend as 'carnival crime'
Jonny, UK
I have been to about 25 carnivals. My first was when I was four years old and I still remember being carried on my father's shoulders through the crowds, and loving every second of it. I have loved every second of it since. As for all the "danger", I have seen none at all. Although I can understand people who have never been being nervous if they believe all the media reports, which attribute all crimes committed in the whole area over the whole holiday weekend as a "carnival crime".

One example of this was a fatal stabbing hours after carnival had been closed down. But it was reported as a "carnival crime" because the victim was wearing a carnival whistle. Carnival weekend is a national treasure and should be treated as such. While risk and violence are routinely played down at big money makers like Glastonbury, carnival is always given a bad press.
Jonny, UK

No thanks! If I wanted to stand in the middle of thousands of drunken, stinking, loud and obnoxious yobs just to get my phone nicked, I'd go to Faliraki!
Andy Balding, UK, Plymouth (ex-Londoner)

What wimpy bunch! Carnival is fantastic, vibrant, fun and friendly. I live smack in the middle of it all and have a fab time each year. Sunday definitely has a more family feel, Monday has a harder edge. Go this Sunday, chill out and enjoy.
John, UK

Notting Hill Carnival has been hijacked from its roots. Revellers hear more garage and drum 'n' bass than the authentic calypso, soca, chutney, and reggae; all of which give carnival its appropriate historical and cultural foundation.
Shen Mehta, USA

I won't be going. Last year the control freaks kept much of the carnival stuck in a side street for eight hours, which is about par for the course when public servants take over anything. For all of the thousands of police on duty, none were interested in a man who had climbed into an old folks' home and was frightening the residents.
D Blakemore, UK

It's our council tax which pays for the clean up
As someone who lives in the middle of Notting Hill, I want carnival to stay. However, if the organisers put 10% of the effort into the clean-up that they do into the event, many more local people would support it. The stench of urine, leaky mobile toilets, vermin feeding on discarded chicken bones and pavements which are sticky for weeks are just a few of the joys of life post-carnival. For us, carnival isn't just two days of fun - it's several weeks of misery. And it's our council tax which pays for the clean up. The organisers should look to events like Hogmanay in Edinburgh which is operated on a free ticket system or think about scaling it back to the Sunday only if they want to carry on with it in Notting Hill.

I am Brazilian by birth and by heart, and I believe that the best party in the world happens here in Brazil, in every big city, in almost every town. I hope other countries could feel a little bit of what we have as our Brazilian culture.
Lorena Vieira, Brazil

I will be going to enjoy the beauty and music. I love to watch the rhythmical swaying ladies! Food is great but the drink is better... let's party!
Mashy, Britain

It's way too big for a residential area now
Rob, UK
Definitely not. I lived in Notting Hill for 14 years, and the carnival came to me. The first two years were fun, but after that, it's too many people, muggings and stabbings, burglaries of flats where people have tried to escape the noise for the weekend, people using my front doorstep as a toilet. Elderly residents are too terrified to leave their homes, and a siege mentality descends. It's way too big for a residential area now, and should be moved to Hyde Park. That or banned.
Rob, UK

I just take pity for the people living there! My poor mate has to board up his letterbox to stop people urinating in it. Nice. Apart from some nice outfits and dancing it turns into living hell by Sunday.
Henry, UK

I've been to the carnival for three years running and I've never been mugged, beaten up or crushed, I've never urinated in a doorway nor seen anyone else do it, and I've never felt threatened or nervous. It's a lot of fun, enjoyed by millions, and if the sourpusses on this page are going to sit at home then all the better for the revellers!
Tom G, UK

Once was enough for me. The music stands all cancel each other out with their blaring speakers and in the end all you remember of the day is getting squashed and trudging around wishing you could sit down. As for the "mouth-watering" food stalls they just looked like a haven for e-coli. It was an ordeal, not a carnival. Totally over-rated.
MP, England

I will be going in costume
Remi, UK
I will be going, as I have for the last 15 years, to take part in the carnival in costume, hear great music and celebrate... crowds are always stressful - but you couldn't have festivals, carnivals or fiestas without them!
Remi, UK

I'd love to take the kids but I have a question. Where does one park given that there is major disruption to the national train network?
MF, Birmingham, UK

This is my first time going to this carnival and I am looking forward to it very much. I will have an orange skirt and T-shirt and also have bright orange hair with a bright pink Harry Potter umbrella :)
Krazy Kate, UK

I will be going to Notting Hill, it's free, fun and good for all the family. What people have got to understand is wherever you get that many people there will always be a spot of bother, you just have to keep your head switched on.
Sam Bowles, UK Swindon

I have been to Notting Hill Carnival and it's a great day out! Yes there are the odd pickpockets and there has been violent incidents in the past - but these are pretty rare! I'm looking forward to going again and intend to have a great time.
Cathy, Cambs

Of course. This is the best weekend of the year! There are always places to go to avoid the crush. The police do an excellent job at Notting Hill and I feel safe, although it's always a good idea to be alert. I'm not one for following the precession, I'll be firmly routed at the KCC soundsystem. I say experience it while we still can, before the Corporate Giants or the Health and Safety executive get their hands on it and turn it into a children's petting zoo!
Mark Hope, London, UK

I hope it is moved before there is a disaster
Andrew Witham, UK
I'd like to go to the Carnival again. But I believe that it's too dangerous. I've seen and been in too many crushes there that could easily have turned out very badly. Notting Hill Carnival has outgrown its venue. I hope it is moved before there is a disaster.
Andrew Witham, UK

This has become an event that far from excites people anymore in the way that I remember it. It puts stress and strain on the communities and there is a lot more commercialism and for there to be over 9,500+ police seems an awful waste of public money. I the end it just fuels the illicit fraternity into making more money on illegal goods.
MS, London

No, I will not be going. I don't want to squeeze into a crowded street, get jostled, sweaty, tired and possibly stabbed. I'll be in front of the telly watching England attempting to win a cricket series for once.
Gareth, UK

If I don't get my annual fix of being pickpocketed, crushed, waiting ages for beer, getting ripped off and watching men urinating in doorways, I don't know what I'd do.
Anon, UK

Nope. The sight of colourful people in front of your eyes is far outweighed by the fear of muggers behind your back.

Steel contest begins carnival
23 Aug 03  |  London



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