Most people do not know that Hackney has an annual carnival event. As come rain or shine, there are always plenty of tropical vibes flooding through the streets of the borough when the Hackney One Carnival arrives in town.
It is traditionally held after Nottinghill, late September and has grown exponentially in numbers since its inception in the 70’s. Hackney has hosted many carnivals, such as the Mare de Gras, De Beauvoir Carnival and the 1973 Street Carnival Theatre run by Centerprise. However, it was in celebration of the launch of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad – the four-year run-up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London, whereby more than 15 carnival groups merged to form Hackney One Carnival in 2008. The focus being on bringing together the whole of the borough. Since then the event has gone from strength to strength, and is now London’s biggest carnival after Notting Hill. [source:http://home.destinationhackney.co.uk/the-history-of-hackney-carnivals]
Around 20 carnival procession groups take part in this event, with the procession usually starting from Ridley Road market, through Dalston to Mare Street and back again. Whilst, Ridley Road turns in to a haven for foodies and music lovers wanting to dance to static sound systems playing all genres of music. Hackney carnival is fun event and almost like a “cooler fete” after the craziness of Nottinghill. Most of the bands bring out smaller floats and all masqueraders who played in Nottinghill are welcome to wear their costume or tshirt to dance with their band. This carnival possesses a community vibe and crowds line the streets in their hundreds to cheer on all the performers and create a true carnival atmosphere.
Getting to Hackney is easy and would recommend taking London transport or parking further away from Ridley Road. Just like Nottinghill you just follow the crowd with it kicking off around 2pm. Unlike Nottinghill bands don’t have stewards to kick you out and because it is not as busy, you are free to jump in with the costume mas. I always go and just roam from band to band depending on the vibe.
I am almost afraid of this carnival getting too big, as the craving for soca related events increases amongst our young people. The police do not have a huge presence but enough to ensure it is a trouble free event. However, it is now attracting crowds and just wonder how long before we are subject to a stringent process of procession.
For more information visit the Hackney One Carnival website.