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In its 60 year history, Notting Hill Carnival has become a symbol of Black Britain and its resilience to celebrate cultural pride in the face of oppression and discrimination.

Once used to target the Black community and tarnish Afro-Caribbean culture, Notting Hill Carnival has become a national British icon, honouring multiculturalism and the uniting of diverse identities across London and the UK. However, the origin of Notting Hill Carnival will always be in the Caribbean and with London’s Black British community.

The Notting Hill race riots

Racially motivated violence on Black Londoners occurred throughout the summer and culminated in the Notting Hill race riots. On 29 September, a mob of white nationalists marched on Bramley Road and attacked the homes of the West Indian residents. The riots continued every night until 5 October.

When did Notting Hill Carnival start?

As a social response to the riots, the first Notting Hill Carnival took place the following January in the form of an indoor, BBC televised event at St Pancras Town Hall. The founder of the Notting Hill Carnival was Claudia Jones, a Trinidadian journalist and activist, who worked closely with fellow Trinidadian and influential musician Edric Connor. Connor became a regular performer over the early years of the carnival and Jones is now known as the ‘Mother of Notting Hill Carnival’.

Claudia Jones, Founder of the Notting Hill Carnival

Claudia Jones, 1915-1964.

This first Notting Hill Carnival showcased elements of Caribbean culture and art, taking inspiration from the original carnivals of the Caribbean islands but presented in a more European cabaret style. There is some debate as to whether this event was really the first Carnival, but most agree on its importance in the Carnival’s history and the UK’s Caribbean community.

Over the next few years, the Carnival took place in this format, however another event that more closely resembles today’s extravaganza was being planned. Rhaune Laslett from Stepney was the President of the London Free School, a group of activists and emerging artists based in London. The group, led by Laslett, wanted to establish a festival to bring together the various ethnic groups and nationalities in the then-disadvantaged area of Notting Hill. Laslett felt that;

“although West Indians, Africans, Irish and many other nationalities all live in a very congested area, there is very little communication between us.”

She wanted to change this whilst also challenging the perception that Notting Hill was a run-down slum area, something that’s hard to imagine now, partly due to the success of the Carnival.

The London Free School realised their dream of a community fair for Notting Hill in September 1966. Originally a traditionally British fair, the various identities and ethnicities of the Notting Hill area were given the chance to showcase their culture and interact with others. It’s safe to say, over 50 years on, their more lofty goal of cultural unity has been largely achieved.

Notting Hill Carnival history

The 1966 Notting Hill Carnival hosted famed Trinidadian musician Russell Henderson, who had previously performed at the indoor edition. Henderson’s influence, as well as other musicians who performed in the first few years, shaped the event into what it is today. He moved off the stage and into a precession to bring more energy and excitement. This was a driving force behind the two iterations of the Carnival merging – and why today it epitomises West Indian carnival culture.

The fair continued annually and by the late 1970s it was undeniably Caribbean, and only growing in popularity. In the 10 years after its inception, the Carnival progressed from two bands to a dozen and, after operating out of The Mangrove Restaurant for a time, it attracted sponsorships, introduced generators and sound systems, and the route was extended.

The origins of Notting Hill Carnival costumes

Most of these advancements were credited to Leslie Palmer, Notting Hill Carnival’s director from 1973 to 1975. Palmer encouraged bands, performers and attendees to wear traditional masquerade costumes, a Caribbean tradition that goes back hundreds of years. Enslaved Africans on the British and French West Indian plantations would hold their own festivities when their masters held masquerade balls for lent.

The enslaved would mimic the costumes worn by the Europeans as a way to mock them. After emancipation, these costumes became a symbol of freedom and cultural identity, traditions that survived over two centuries, made it back across the Atlantic with the Windrush Generation, all the way to Notting Hill. By the mid-1970s, the Notting Hill Carnival of today was beginning to take shape, but unfortunately, racist attitudes of the time would still have to be confronted.

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Racism, tension and clashes

The more West Indian the Notting Hill Carnival became, the more it seemed to spark racial tensions and be tarnished by riots. In reality, the Carnival was an easy and large-scale target for those who wanted to harass London’s Black British communities. The policing of the Carnival at this time was harsh and uncompromising. Media coverage was overwhelmingly negative and one-sided, often portraying the Carnival as menacing and attendees as troublemakers.

Notting Hill Carnival riots

Disproportionate coverage of confrontations at the Carnival put tensions on a knife edge every year. Huge numbers of police violently broke up the predominantly Black crowd in 1976, resulting in rioting and arrests. Whilst the violence did slowly diminish as the years went on, it wasn’t until 1987 that the approach to policing the Carnival softened in response to the clashes of that year.

For the first time in 54 years, the Carnival was forced to desert the streets of Notting Hill in 2020 and 2021 due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The organisers replaced in-person festivities with online events. However, the previous few years attracted around one million attendees, making it the largest street party in Europe. The tribute to Caribbean, African and Black diasporic culture has stayed true to its roots through its unmistakable sounds, colours and atmosphere.

The spectacle of the modern Carnival however has changed, its significance is now far beyond the cultural unity of the Notting Hill area. The Carnival is part of the identity of the UK’s Afro-Caribbean community, a symbol of their fight for equality, a huge event in the British calendar and a £93m contributor to the UK economy. The Notting Hill Carnival is one of many ways Black people have made a profound cultural impact on Britain, and perhaps the most fun.

In 2006, the festival was voted into the list of cultural icons of  England by the general public since its beginning in 1959. The success of the Notting Hill Carnival demonstrates the power that culture has in bridging gaps and easing tensions. The festival is held yearly in August during the Bank Holiday.

From beaches in the Caribbean, breathtaking gardens in South America, and stunning architecture in Europe, there are a ton of places you can visit in May  no matter your budget.

For the month of May, we are focusing our flight deals on the Caribbean since June 1 marks the start of Hurricane season.

Here’s where you can travel in May for less than $250 round-trip.

Editor’s Note: Please check all updated travel advisories and adhere to all testing requirements and mask mandates, if you decide to travel this fall.

1. San Juan, Puerto Rico

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Puerto Rico will always be a favorite location of ours because it’s an easy destination where there’s no passport needed.

It’s the perfect destination for a quick getaway when you need a break, but you don’t want to travel too far.

May is also a good time to go because, over the last few years, the island has seen a pretty active hurricane season.

Right now, you can travel to Puerto Rico for less than $200 round-trip from New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, according to Skyscanner.

May 2022 Flight Deal Round Up
Skyscanner

The cheapest option leaves Miami on May 7 and returns on May 14 for just $82 round-trip.

May 2022 Flight Deal Round Up
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2. St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

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Another gem of the Caribbean location is St. Thomas.  Like Puerto Rico, it’s the perfect destination to unwind and getaway.  Even better?  This is the second destination on our list where a passport is not needed.

May is also a great time to go because the U.S. Virgin Islands has seen its share of destruction from mother nature.

However, as we pointed out in our guide to explore the islands, there’s still a lot to indulge in from the beaches, nightlife, and excursions.

You can explore St. Thomas this May for less than $250 if you’re departing New York City, Orlando, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Fort Lauderdale.

May 2022 Flight Deal Round Up
Skyscanner

Miami is the cheapest departure city on Skyscanner. Plug-in May 7 through May 9 as your travel dates for a round-trip ticket priced at $185.

May 2022 Flight Deal Round Up
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3. Phillipsburg, Sint Maarten

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Now, here’s a deal you don’t see every day, let alone for the second month in a row.  If you’ve been following our monthly flight deal roundups, then you’re probably just as surprised as we are that round-trip flights to Sint Maarten’s capital city are going for less than $250 round-trip …again.

May 2022 Flight Deal Round Up
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It’s the Dutch side of the island that’s shared with the French (Saint Martin) and there’s a lot to do. From art galleries, Great Bay Beach, and chilling on the boardwalk— Phillipsburg will not disappoint.

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Great Bay Beach is great for relaxing, while Little Bay Beach is perfect for snorkeling. If you’re traveling solo, the boardwalk is where you can meet people if you’re feeling social as it’s full of a ton of bars, restaurants, and stores.

Departing from Miami is the cheapest way. Use May 14 through May 21 as your travel dates in Skyscanner to get there for as low as $174 round-trip.

May 2022 Flight Deal Round Up
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4. Saint John’s, Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda
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A trip to Antigua and Barbuda’s capital city means beaches, adventure, food, and art.

What could possibly be better than that? Our answer is nothing, too. Even though it’s a Caribbean destination where most travelers are seeking the beach, it’s one of those destinations that offers a lot both on and off the water.

You can choose from hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, horseback riding, and zip-lining opportunities to explore.

Another cool experience? Dune buggies. You can rent them from 268 Buggies for an exciting off-the-road tour.

Traveling from Miami, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta will get you to Saint John’s for the cheapest, according to Skyscanner.

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Orlando is the cheapest option, though. Use May 14 through May 21 as your travel dates for a round-trip ticket for $183.

May 2022 Flight Deal Round Up
Skyscanner

 

5. Belize City, Belize

Belize
Unsplash | Meritt Thomas

If you’re traveling from Denver or Orlando, then this nonstop flight deal to Belize City is for you.

During your stay, you can shop with the locals, dive into Caye Caulker Marine Reserve or go swimming with sharks at HOL CHAN CUT.

What we love about the Caribbean is the food.  Very few destinations in the world offer the spice combos, flavors, and fresh seafood the Caribbean has to offer.

At the top of your list should be Elvi’s Kitchen, known for its Mayan-Caribbean fusion cuisine that locals say is one of the best in the city.

Also, The Truck Stop and Hurricane’s Ceviche Barare favorites among tourists and locals alike.

Leaving Denver will get you there the cheapest. Use May 14 through May 21 as your travel dates for a flight deal for $170 round-trip.

May 2022 Flight Deal Round Up
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source: Travel Noire

Puerto Rico is all set to welcome back tourists from July 15, but with all health and safety measures in place. It is part of the island’s four-phased reopening plan.

The vibrant island has a distinct vibe, which is the result of a mashup of cultures–African, Spanish, French, Dutch and British blood pumps through the veins of the islands’ diverse population.

With this step, Puerto Rico will join the expanding list of Caribbean islands opening up for tourism. However, Puerto Rico never closed its borders to the citizens of the United States, or foreign nationals who hadn’t been to Iran, China, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Brazil, or any of the European Schengen area in the previous 14 days.

During all this time, a 14-day quarantine rule was applied on anyone who was flying into Puerto Rico, along with other stringent lockdown measures, which meant that tourists were discouraged from visiting the island.

Reportedly, Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vázquez recently announced that from now on, travellers who can show negative COVID-19 test results, which were obtained 72 hours prior to arrival, will not be required to undergo quarantine.

Here’s what you should know:

When You Arrive At The Airport

Arriving travelers may be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days no matter whether they have symptoms or not. The National Guard will be assisting with health screenings of all arriving passengers, including rapid COVID-19 tests.

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Getting Around

Ridesharing options like Uber have mandated face coverings for both the drivers and the passengers.  The front seat will be prohibited.

Certified transportation carriers will properly disinfect vehicles and have hand sanitizer available. In addition, drivers will wear gloves when handling doors and luggage.

Things To Do

Restaurants will open with a maximum occupancy of 25% in their dining rooms. Similar to the airport, temperature checks will be performed before entering. Anyone with a temperature of 100.3 will be denied entry.

Employees will be required to use face coverings, and buffets, salad bars, and self-serve options, as well as reusable menus, are prohibited.

Attractions, with the exception of outdoor recreation spaces, including public beaches, natural reserves, and golf courses are closed.

Shopping malls will enforce social distancing and some stores even require appointments before entering.

If you’re planning to attend a casino,  wellness checkpoints will be conducted at entryways, which includes temperature checks and hand sanitizer.

Gaming stations and slot machines will be cleaned every hour of after each guest.  Social distancing will be strictly enforced.  Face coverings by employees and guests are required.

For more information and to stay up-to-date with the latest in Puerto Rico, click here for its visitor health and safety guidelines.