Notting Hill Carnival: A Briefing Paper The PurposeThe purpose of this briefing paper is to provide historical development of an event Notting Hill Carnival which has taken place for more than four decades in London. This paper suggests strategies to successfully manage the event which attracted more than a million tourists in the country. A Summary of the FactsIn Notting Hill, London, England each August, over three days (a weekend and a bank holiday), there is an annual event taking place. Those members of the Caribbean population who have been living in the area since 1950s have led the festival and managed the event for many years.
The festival has been rated as one of the biggest street festival in Europe which has attracted more than 1.5 million people in the past years. The Notting Hill Carnival event involved other prominent arts events in the country. Some arts events are several major live music events, and the famous procession of masquerade bands. The event has attracted a huge number of tourists from the UK as well as abroad. With its 40 years of tenure, the event has received an iconic status.
The status was gained due to the presence and contribution of communities of the roots in the Caribbean to London and the UK. The Notting Hill Carnival has grown from a small West Indian street celebration first held in 1964 to a two-day international event which at its peak attracted some 1.2 million visitors in 1999. It began in the wake of the 1958 race riots when Notting Hill was fast becoming one of the first of the new innercity areas attracting immigrants from the old Commonwealth.
Both the Carnival and the area in which it is held have changed substantially over the past 40 years. Many of the original immigrants have moved out and the area has gentrified with more wealthy, younger residents replacing them. Yet the Carnival has evolved to become a national, indeed international, focal point for the celebration of West Indian culture and music but with the majority of its visitors no longer belonging to the ethnic communities which continue to organise and support it. Tensions between the residents, those who manage the Carnival—namely, the police and local authorities— and even amongst different types of visitor have grown.
Crime associated with the event has dramatically increased and there are now considerable problems of public safety due to crowding along the parade route itself, at fixed sound systems and at subway (tube) stations which the majority of visitors coming to the Carnival use. Against this background, there is substantial momentum to address these problems not only through more intensive crowd management on each day of the event but also through altering the route of the parade and perhaps the location of the sound systems.
The Carnival Review Group (CRG) set up by the Greater London Authority has initiated an intense process of stakeholder involvement which involves all relevant interests inthe technical design activities (CRG, 2001). As part of these activities, the present authors have built various simulation models of the current situation which are being used in the evaluation of new routes (Intelligent Space Partnership, 2002). What will be reported here is only one aspect of these simulations.
The paper will introduce and apply an experimental model which enables the assessment of local movement to, from and between the various events that comprise the Carnival, illustrating how crowds build up and generate problems of public safety. The models presented deal with how spatial phenomena emerge through interactions between individuals. The theories of systemic complexity associated with these developments represent the analytical cutting edge of urban and transport science at the present time, where the focus has shifted away from aggregative, static conceptions of how cities are structured to the more detailed dynamics which determine the heterogeneity that cities display at much finer scales.
In short, such models are based on the idea that unusual and important behaviours emerge when interactions between the individuals that are engaged in those events accumulate to a point where distinct changes occur in how people react (Batten, 2000). Crowding is one such phenomenon. It generates panic, flight, sometimes mass hysteria, which is clearly applicable to highly concentrated spatial events such as carnivals, street parades, some types of shopping and, indeed, any situation involving rapid exit or entrance from or to high-capacity buildings and vehicles (Canetti, 1962).