Catalytic Calypso in London.

Every August bank holiday, the relatively dreary streets of Notting Hill in West London are magically transformed to make way for the two-day carnival. Originating from the Caribbean island of Trinidad, it is a calendar event that needs to be experienced in person.

From steel pan drummers in 1964 in Earls’s Court, the carnival has grown to attract almost 60 floats, close to 40 soundstages, and more than a million people[1][2]. Masquerading their former owners from a bygone era, the costumes were originally made to ridicule the slaveowners and has since then become a symbol of Carribean culture and spirit of freedom and independence.

The carnival vibe is addictive and infectious, from the jerk chicken with rice and beans to the smiles on the dancers, it is one of happiness, celebration, and fun. The many floats represent the myriad cultures only separated by a small body of water in a relatively small region — a testament to the uniqueness of humans. From samba to soca, Mauritius to the Dominican republic, the carnival celebrates these unique cultural differences.

The celebration of a race from having abolished slavery is translated into colorful mimicry through smell, sight, and sound. A rather apt translation of the people’s will into art and culture.

Streets dotted with sound stages are a symbol of unity in a common objective, where music blaring from walls of speakers reverberates through the hearts and minds of the people, dancing in unison to the beats of freedom, struggle, and victory.

Originally published at on August 30, 2016.