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'Carnival will never be moved off of Notting Hill's streets'

MAKING THINGS HAPPEN: Executive director of Notting Hill Carnival Ltd, Matthew Phillip, says there are bigger plans than ever before for Carnival’s Family Day

REGULAR CARNIVAL goers are gearing up for this year’s instalment of Europe’s biggest event of its kind when steel bands and revellers hit the roads of Notting Hill on August Bank Holiday weekend – and they’re not the only ones.

None are more excited by the prospect of pulling off yet another street party extravaganza the likes of which are an inherent part of the London’s black community experience, than Matthew Phillip.

Executive director of Notting Hill Carnival Ltd, Phillip has a massive job on his hands.

A carnival original whose father came from Trinidad and ‘injected the culture of carnival’ into him from an early age, Phillip, who grew up in west London and considers himself a ‘son of carnival’, told Life & Style at last week’s official Notting Hill Carnival launch that his team are ready to deliver.

Explaining what exactly his team does, Phillip said: “Part of my role is to organise the Notting Hill Carnival alongside the team of staff that we have. We work to an advisory council as well as board.”

He added: “There [are] a lot of people behind the scenes and my role is the head of the staff, to deliver the event, coordinate the bands and sound systems and fitting the event into a plan.”

Tackling a few misconceptions, Phillip allayed fears around the notion that carnival could one day lose its west London home.

Answering Voice Twitter follower Jay-Rome’s direct question on the chances of the residents of Notting Hill getting their way and carnival being relocated, Phillip said: “There’s a reason for carnival. The reason for carnival is born out of struggle and things that this local community were going through 50 years ago.

“Carnival is like Christmas or New Year’s Eve, you can’t move it. It belongs on the street. People take to the streets for those two days of carnival to express their freedom and their unity and, as far as I am concerned, Carnival will never be moved off of the streets of Notting Hill.” Carnival requires a huge attention to safety in order to ensure it happens every year, next months occasion will be no different.

In order to attain their own vision of success Phillip said they intend to utilise more local expertise than ever before. “We always want people to come to carnival and feel safe when they are here.

“Since last year we reinvigorated the community steward programme, we’re building on that and we have stronger people and we have people who were there last year as well.

“We’ve got more experience and it’s about giving it a festival feel.

“It’s a community event that was born out of the community and we want people to feel that when they come to it. It’s an event that’s safe for all of the family to come to.”

The first day of Notting Hill Carnival (Sunday, August 25) is traditional ‘Children’s Day’ or ‘Family Day’.

All are of course welcome, but the bands on the road as part of the carnival parade are dominated by children. Anyone can join a mas band for Carnival, too – just go to, select a band and apply. Be aware you will have to apply ahead of the Carnival weekend and deadline dates will vary between bands.

“We do have a few more children’s bands this year,” Phillips said.

He added: “We want to focus on and highlight the children.

“There’s a misconception that they haven’t been there, but they just haven’t been shouted about.

“This year we have 40 children’s bands on the Sunday. Last year there was just over 30, so that’s growing and they make up the majority of the parade on Sunday.”

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