As West London prepares to head out on the streets...
Hollie Cook

Notting Hill Carnival was set up as a means to showcase Afro-Caribbean culture in a safe, positive, inclusive way - and it's also a fantastic party.

Europe's biggest street parade, it finds thousands of music lovers thronging the streets of West London across two days to experience sounds supplied by some of the finest systems around.

This year will contain a particular poignancy. The parade route passes by Grenfell Tower, once the site of an energetic community and now the site of an unspeakable tragedy.

Hollie Cook grew up in West London, so experiencing the sights, sounds, and tastes of Notting Hill Carnival is something that touches deep within her.

With this year's instalment set to be so emotional, she kindly wrote a few words for Clash on what carnival means to her...

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I’ve attended Carnival for the last 15 years or so after my mum first took me as a child, and although there’s always a lot of discussion in the media before each event – for example in 2011 when there was talk of calling it off entirely - this year feels different for sure.

There was such an overwhelming sense of community and togetherness after the recent tragedy, I find it hard not to anticipate that same sense of togetherness during Carnival this year. It's always there, but the need to celebrate the area and show respect and support for the victims is hard to ignore. There’s going to be a one minute silence at 3pm and everyone is being encouraged to wear Green for Grenfell.

It's hard not to get too down about the restrictions that seem to come in yearly from the authorities - most notably this year's lack of Toddla T Sound, but that makes for all the more reason to defiantly celebrate the weekend and the true essence of carnival. There's always a small amount of apprehension for those darker moments too, but for the most part, love and music always wins.

You will find me floating around Powis Square way between Gaz's Rockin' Blues, Rampage, Channel One, King Tubby's, Different Strokes etc. For me, I don't like to get caught up in massive walks around the whole place. I save the big walk for heading back after I've collected a group of friends, and carry on the party at home!

The most important part of Carnival for me is simply about having a drink and a dance in the streets with my friends. A time to be carefree and end the summer on a high…

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For tickets to the latest Hollie Cook shows click HERE.

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