St Paul’s Carnival, Bristol, England

St Paul’s area in Bristol is the home of a strong African and Caribbean community, which can only be compared to the Notting Hill area in London. Every year since 1967 (except in 2002 and 2006), a carnival has taken place in its streets to celebrate Caribbean culture through a procession, dancing, live music, street parties and food. The celebration puts the whole community of St Paul’s in the street along with people from all over Bristol and beyond. For the day, St Paul’s neighbourhood, along with the regular street restaurants, sets itself up as food sellers, putting tables and chairs outside in front of their houses. On the tables are delicious home made Caribbean dishes. Rhum and Red Stripe beer flow like water and chicken jerk barbecued endlessly filling the streets of St Paul’s with smoke. By the time the procession starts, St Paul’s is already packed with thousands people partying. Between the drums accompanying the procession and the bass of the sound system, the intensity and the energy in such a small area of the city give a feel for how strong the African and Caribbean culture and community is in Bristol. All over the streets, DJs are the masters of the day, leading dancers into various rhythms and music from hip hop to dub, from reggae to soul music. At the end of the day when silence returns, the spirit of the bass is still there. The spirit of St Paul’s does not stop at the end of the carnival. Its culture has been influencing the city and Bristolian artists for decades and will still do in the future.