The emphasis is on traditional music but soundsystems get a look-in too…
With this year's Notting Hill Carnival unable to go ahead for obvious reasons, the organisers have announced their plans for a virtual version to take place on August Bank Holiday weekend (29-31 August).
The virtual Carnival will feature four separate streaming channels. Things kick off on Saturday 29 August with a Carnival Warm-Up on Channel 1 from 6pm to midnight, but really get into gear on the Sunday and Monday, when the Parade Channel can be found on Channel 2 from noon till 8pm, the Soundsystem Channel on Channel 3, also from noon till 8pm, and the Main Stage Channel on Channel 4 from 8pm until 11pm. There will then be an "official afterparty" courtesy of BBC Radio 1Xtra.
Musically, the programme's emphasis is on the more traditional musics of Carnival – calypso, soca, steel bands and so on – but the Carnival's many soundsystems will also be represented, including the likes of Volcano, Arts-A-Light, Disya Jeneration, Gaz's Rockin Blues, Seduction City, KCC & The Rockin Crew, King Tubby's, Love TKO, Mark Ross, Rampage, Rough But Sweet, G T Flex Roadshow, CMC Matrix and Solution Sound – though sadly, as far as we can tell, no Good Times.
This year also sees Notting Hill Carnival partnering for the first time with Spotify, who in August will be launching an NHC microsite and presenting playlists curated by the soundsystems mentioned above. There will also be podcasts on various aspects of the black British experience, as well as takeovers of popular UK dancehall, reggae, soca and Afrobeat playlists.
Matthew Phillip, who is the Carnival's executive director, said:
"Carnival is such an important part of people's lives and key celebration of the multiculturalism of the UK, and we have a responsibility to our community and pioneers to honour that. We also have a responsibility to protect the black community and our elders by respecting social distancing and taking Carnival away from the streets for this year. So this is a fantastic solution for 2020. We may not be able to celebrate together on the streets as usual, but we can all come together to celebrate one of the UK’s great cultural events online.”
As our picture shows, this year's virtual Notting Hill Carnival is the end result of many months of planning and socially distanced filming. To stream it, you'll need to download a dedicated iOS/Android app, which is available for download from their own website.