The Caribbean community has played a pivotal role in shaping British culture, since the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush 71 years ago. This is now celebrated annually on 22 June as Windrush Day. On that day in 1948, the vessel landed at Tilbury Docks, in London, bringing with it the first immigrants from the Caribbean. In the years that followed, a huge number of immigrants from the Caribbean followed, and the ship’s name inspired the term, the Windrush Generation. The celebration is designed to recognise and celebrate the incredible contributions of the Windrush Generation and their descendants in helping create the multicultural Britain that exists today.
As well as the Windrush Day celebrations, numerous other events take place across Britain throughout the year to celebrate Caribbean culture, including one of the world’s largest street festivals – the Notting Hill Carnival. Visitors can enjoy revelry, dance and music, while getting a true taste of Caribbean food and drink in Britain.
Events for Windrush Day
A number of events are taking place in London to mark Windrush Day, including the Radiate Windrush Festival, held in Crystal Palace Park. Numerous acts are performing, alongside a food village offering a range of Caribbean and African cuisine.
The Migration Museum at the Workshop is also hosting a day of activities to coincide with a new audio-visual exhibition called Caribbean Takeaway Takeover: Identity and Stories. The museum’s café will morph into a Caribbean takeaway, while also telling inspirational stories from those who arrived on the HMT Empire Windrush.
Newcastle is hosting a Rum and Reggae Festival on 22 June, where guests will be taken on a rum journey around the world. The festival is visiting numerous other locations during the summer months, including London, Reading, Nottingham, Brighton, Kidderminster, Manchester, Weston-Super-Mare and Lincoln.
Meanwhile the city of Bangor in Wales is hosting a Jamaican breakfast to mark the occasion.
Notting Hill Carnival
As one of the world’s largest street festivals, the Notting Hill Carnival celebrates Caribbean culture in Britain every August Bank Holiday. From the first event in 1959, the carnival in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has continued to grow, with steel bands, street food and dancing commonplace. By bringing together talents from London’s Caribbean community, the festival is a celebration of cultural diversity, creativity and the arts, with a traditional J’ouvert parade taking place early on Sunday morning (25 August). Expect revellers donned in brightly coloured paint and an array of dance shows, with the Sunday of the festival aimed at children in particular. As well as a Children’s Parade, a host of other family-friendly entertainment can be found dotted around the streets. The Notting Hill Grand Finale Parade brings an end to proceedings on Monday (26 August), with an array of dancing, street performances, steel bands and music groups all taking part.
When? 24-26 August
Having evolved from a small gathering, Jerk Jam is now a fully-fledged celebration of the Caribbean, with food vendors, artists, DJs and dancers flocking to Houndhill Farm in Hampshire. Alongside four stages of live music, there’ll be workshops for children, fairground rides and plenty of circus, arts and magic performers. The centre piece of the festival is the Jerk-Off BBQ Battle, when chefs from all over the country go head-to-head in a boxing ring, battling it out with authentic jerk pans.
When? 20 July
Caribbean Carnival of Manchester
Since launching in 1972, the Caribbean Carnival of Manchester has celebrated all that is great about Caribbean culture in the heart of the city’s Alexandra Park. Expect to see Caribbean music and dance, as well as theatre, steel bands and an abundance of bright and extravagant costumes. Proceedings start with an early morning J’ouvert parade before the main carnival procession weaves its way through the crowds, complete with floats, DJs, dance troupes and a host of carnival queens and princesses in the early afternoon. Three stages of music will be accompanied by a host of food vendors and Soca bands.
When? 10-11 August
Caribbean Music Festival – Liverpool
Dubbed the ‘ultimate Caribbean festival’, Liverpool’s celebration of the Caribbean welcomes an array of DJs and other artists to Brick Street to showcase their talents. Headline acts for the main stage of this year’s Caribbean Music Festival include Scrappy Sinon, DJ Rockshun, Big Band Tropical Storm, Firebiggz, DJ Rory and Iyah Sample, among others.
When? 17 August
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