Taking the Notting Hill Carnival to the Next Level
During my last big Euro vacation in the Summer of 2007, my friend and I traveled two weeks to London and all over Italy. During our stay in London, my uncle (a lifetime UK resident who’s always very in tune with the best ‘happenings’ in town) took us to the annual Notting Hill Carnival – a cultural costume and entertainment extravaganza that occurs during UK’s annual Bank Holiday in late August. Having attracted up to 2 million people in the past, the Notting Hill Carnival is the second largest street festival in the world. As described on their Facebook Like page, it is “a dazzling display of both social solidarity and artistic expression.” Originating in 1966, the carnival is led by citizens of Trinidad and Tobego. Its primary mission was to raise awareness during a rough state of race relations at the time, and eventually inherited more of a Caribbean feel.
In addition to learning this history, I will never forget the vibrant colors and invigorating sounds that took over me as I stepped to the street-side and witnessed the ongoing parade during day 1 of 2. I felt so fortunate to have stumbled upon this opportunity to be a part of something so much greater than myself. The combination of the history and the excitement made me realize the importance and impact that this event had on the communities in which it occurred (Notting Hill; Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea) as well as London as a whole.
Currently, the carnival does not have much of an online presence. Their Twitter page has a mere 19 followers and their Facebook site has about 6,500 fans. These are perplexing statistics seeing that the carnival attracts an average of 1 million people yearly.
Why not take the carnival further into the virtual space?
For many global and cultural enthusiasts, travel can sometimes be prevented to a certain degree by financial and time constraints. Additionally, the Notting Hill Carnival in particular isn’t quite well known (I’ve asked a few of my close friends and family if they’ve ever heard of it; 6 out of 7 of them said ‘no’). So the main goals of getting the word out through social media would be to:
1. Create awareness of the festival worldwide, giving interested audience an experience without being physically present, and
2. Increase crowd excitement and attendance (since numbers have gone down in recent years).
The caution with accomplishing the second goal is the risk of increasing violence that has also gone up in recent years. Apart from other security measures that authorities made last year, social media can also be used as a safety tool. Which brings me to a third goal:
3. Minimize violence by enabling carnival attendees to stay connected and act as safety “eyes” during the festivities.
In order to accomplish these goals, the carnival organizers need to stay consistently active online, year-round. Their current efforts seem to be dwindling, and only focusing on the actual event itself. Keeping an ongoing conversation (through videos, blogging, and even costume contests) will not only create excitement leading up to the event, but keep the event going strong long after it is over.
These steps would help the Notting Hill Carnival reach an ultimate goal of hosting a successful, safe, and popular event – not only locally, but also globally!
From → United Kingdom