One of the biggest events of the London calendar, the Notting Hill Carnival, is set to take place in the capital this bank holiday weekend. The annual party is a huge celebration of Caribbean culture, and tens of thousands of people are expected to descend on Notting Hill for music, dancing and flavoursome street food.
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The first Notting Hill Carnival took place in 1966, when around 500 people attended. The event has grown dramatically over the years to become the three-day-long extravaganza of colour, noise and celebrations that it is today - London's Caribbean community spends months getting ready for the occasion each year, and people travel from all over to join in the fun.
If you're heading to the carnival yourself this weekend, we hope you have an amazing time! And if you're not able to go to London, you can still get into the spirit of the celebration, with carnival-inspired crafts and Caribbean-influenced dishes.
Make your own carnival headdresses
The feathered, sequinned and elaborately painted headdresses worn by the hundreds of dancers at Notting Hill Carnival are completely breathtaking, and a real highlight of the event for many.
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Making your own carnival-inspired headdresses and masks at home is a lovely activity to do with the children on a rainy afternoon, so dig out your craft supplies, some old Alice bands, and get creative. Sequins, feathers, glitter and even pipe cleaners will all make fabulous additions to an old headband to make it carnival-ready.
Just make sure you put plenty of newspaper down to protect your furniture before getting crafty. Paint and glue (and perhaps even glitter glue) are musts, but you don't want to ruin your dining room table along the way.
Music and dancing are at the heart of the Notting Hill Carnival, with steel drums dominating the soundtrack of the event, as hundreds upon hundreds of dancers samba their way through the streets of London.
Channel the carnival spirit by attending a samba dance class with friends, which will be fantastic fun and help to keep you fit at the same time - it's a great new hobby to try, and you never know, you could be carnival-ready in time for next year.
If you're a little more shy or unsure, there are plenty of videos online where you can learn samba-esque moves, providing you with a hugely fun home workout.
Tuck into Caribbean-inspired dishes
The aromatic smell of Caribbean cooking and the beautiful flavours of jerk, ackee and saltfish, mango and coconut are also massive draws for spectators at the Notting Hill Carnival, with street food stalls popping up all over the area for the course of the August bank holiday.
Try cooking some traditional Caribbean dishes for yourself at home, such as jerk chicken, which is typically served with rice and peas for a filling yet flavour-packed meal.
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The chicken would usually be marinated in a jerk sauce make from chopped spring onions, chillies, onion, lime, soy sauce, herbs, ginger, allspice, garlic and vegetable oil. Combined, these ingredients create a hot and spicy marinade that has a real kick, but is slightly softened thanks to that hit of lime - it really is gorgeous.
Jerk can have a very aromatic fragrance, which is wonderful while you're eating, but you don't necessarily want that to linger in your kitchen into the next day - it's the same with lots of other meals, like curries and fish and chips.
Our Chef's Friend Reed Diffuser and Chef's Friend Room Spray can be a real help in covering up these smells, thanks to their fresh scent of lemongrass and lime. You could even burn our Chef's Friend Candle in a Tin while you're eating to really bring out that lime flavour in the jerk marinade.
For a Caribbean-inspired dessert, mango, coconut and rum are all beautiful exotic flavours to use. You could incorporate them into a drizzle cake, or use them as a topping for pancakes perhaps, bringing together Caribbean and British traditions in one beautiful dessert.
If you're planning to cook pungent dishes to get into the carnival spirit, check out our Chef's Friend home fragrance range here