Northern England Photo Essay

Posted on October 16, 2014 in LUP Fall 14, LUP Outings, Places to Visit, Student voice by Emily

From the windswept, quiet shores of the holy isle of Lindisfarne to the grand, sweeping halls of York Minster, this trip to visit the north of England and see where Christianity first developed and grew in Britain opened my eyes to the history of our Catholic faith on this island. Though each of the ruins and cathedrals we visited were grand, beautiful, and imposing in their own right, it was only once I learned of the history behind each of them that I was able to appreciate how amazing they truly are.


Ruins of the Lindisfarne PrioryThe ruins of the Lindisfarne Priory stand stark against the seemingly endless coast of the island. Looking at the stone walls and precariously towering arches, it almost seems possible that they might crumble overhead at any moment. It was here in 635 that Aidan, one of the first Christian missionaries in England, built his priory, and here that St Cuthbert, who travelled England to spread the word of Christianity, was Bishop. Though all that is left of now of the Lindisfarne Priory is crumbled walls, the presence of the men of faith who lived in Lindisfarne is still very much there, creating an intimate religious experience for pilgrims like myself.


What I was most struck by when we visited Durham Cathedral was how well they had integrated the ancient and the modern in this nearly thousand-year-old building. As our tour guide took us around the Cathedral, he showed us the first stone roof, the first flying buttresses, and the first examples of Gothic-style arches in a European church, which clearly showed how old the Cathedral truly is. He then pointed out a stained glass window installed in 2012 with an almost impressionistic depiction of the Last Supper, a modern statue of Mary that used facial features of ethnicities from around the world to create a truly international Mother of God, and an ongoing Lego recreation of the Cathedral, examples of the modernity that still lives and breathes there. In spite of its age, Durham Cathedral is far from being stuck in the past and is continuing to transform and be a part of modern culture and Christianity in England.

Durham CathedralLego recreation of Durham Cathedral


Fountains AbbeyThe allure of Fountains Abbey does not only come from its history as a religious institution but also what happened there after it was abandoned following the Reformation. The Abbey was not destroyed right away, but instead was systematically torn down beginning years later after being sold to a merchant. The lands surrounding the ruins were then turned into beautifully kept gardens during the Victorian period and Fountains Abbey soon became the second most visited tourist attraction in England, falling behind only London. I think what I loved most about visiting Fountains Abbey was the fact that I had never heard of it before, which is quite astounding considering its incredible history. Therefore, everything I learned was entirely new and exciting and only increased my enjoyment at exploring the Abbey.


York Minster

Though each of the ruins and cathedrals we visited on the trip were affected by the Reformation and Anglicanism, it was in York Minster that I felt their effects most. We attended Evensong in York Minster, the Anglican form of Evening Prayer. As a lifelong Catholic, it was a very interesting experience. In that beautiful and grand cathedral, with the angelic sound of the choir echoing, I could see why Anglicans found Evensong an incredible experience of faith. It was different than most of the Catholic Masses and prayer services to which I have been. Experiencing this form of prayer which was very new to me caused me to reflect on the changes that York Minster underwent in becoming an Anglican cathedral after it was first built as a Catholic one. Outwardly York Minster still seems very Catholic: it is grand and ornate and very similar to Catholic cathedrals. Just as York Minster still echoes its Catholic history, Anglicanism is not so different from Catholicism and we even said the same Creed during Evensong that we as Catholics profess every week during Mass. However, there are subtle differences between the two and I could feel them during Evensong. Reflecting on the history of Catholicism and Anglicanism in England made me enjoy this new service even more.


St. Margaret ClitherowWhen we learned about the martyr St. Margaret Clitherow, I thought even more on the relationship between Catholicism and Anglicanism. St. Margaret was martyred in the sixteenth century during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. She was accused of harboring a Catholic priest and sentenced to be crushed to death after refusing to plea in an effort to protect her children, friends, and neighbors who were also practicing Catholics. The Reformation was a terrible time for Catholics in England, as their churches were destroyed or converted to the Church of England, they were forced to give up their faiths, and those who refused became martyrs when they were executed as traitors. Tensions between Catholicism and Anglicanism would remain for years following, even after Catholicism was finally made legal once again. King Henry VIII forever changed Catholicism in England, and though we are no longer living in an age when people like St. Margaret Clitherow can be executed for their Catholic faith, we cannot deny the effects it has had.


This trip to the north of England to explore the roots and history of Christianity in Great Britain was very enlightening. I feel I learned a lot about the monks who once ministered there, the people who worshipped, the great lords who built soaring cathedrals, and the faithful who were affected by the Reformation. As I attend Mass and celebrate my own Catholic faith here in London each Sunday, I shall remember them and what they went through and the marks in time they left behind for us to discover.


- Alexandra Bohnsack (London Undergraduate Program, Fall 2014)

Images ©Alexandra Bohnsack, all rights reserved.

It’s Brighter in Brighton

Posted on September 29, 2014 in LUP Fall 14, Places to Visit, Student Blog Competition Entries, Student voice by Emily

Though London is quickly becoming my favorite city in the world, sometimes a girl has to clear her head and escape the city limits.  There are only so many rush hour tube rides one can take before going insane, after all.  Perhaps, if said girl is lucky, her escape can be to go see the ocean, because there is something so incredibly calming, perhaps nostalgic, about seeing waves lap up on the beach and a straight horizon of brilliant blue water.

Indeed, it was incredibly calming when my alarm went off at 8:00, when my comforter fell on one of my sleeping flatmates, when the fire alarm went off for the umpteenth time this trip and literally no one paid any attention, and when my flatmates and I barreled down the halls of our building to catch our train  :-)

But but but… whatever stress may or may not have been incurred was immediately wiped away by the ocean smell as soon as we descended onto the platform in Brighton.

And then, when we saw this:

Brighton Beach

Ah yes, hello Brighton.

London has a very distinct atmosphere: it’s hurried, proper, somehow both elegant and bohemian, and a perfectly molded splash of hundreds of cultures all coming together to form a gorgeous city.  It’s inspiring, and it encourages its people to jump headfirst into life and into the streets and into the night and into anything they might be doing.

And while that’s fantastic… sometimes you don’t want to always be jumping.

Brighton is the counter to London. You don’t jump into the city; you can gradually coast into it. There is no rush, no need to ponder thousands of years of history or culture or the arts.  You merely need to embrace your day, take in the sun, and relax as you intentionally lose your way around the city.

The best places my friends and I found to lose ourselves:



1) The Lanes, which are adorable, tiny stone streets of shops and galleries, and the occasional phenomenal tea shop or cafe. And Kathleen’s overalls (of which she is VERY proud,) fit in perfectly. As did her and Olivia’s flower crowns… of which they are also incredibly proud.




2) Brighton Pier, which conveniently has a NuNu (I loved Teletubbies as a kid, no judgement) and perfect places to reenact Titanic (thank you Harriet and Kathleen, for being so beautiful you brought Olivia and I to tears.) The pier also has carnival rides and a fun arcade… but we were enjoying the sun too much to partake.



3) Wai Kika Moo Kau, the best vegetarian / vegan restaurant I’ve ever visited, and which made my friends’ and my day, because, confession time, there is no end to my love for hummus, falafels, halloumi, or anything else on the heavenly plate they set in front of me.



4) The walk aside the Royal Pavillion… because you don’t feel like you’re in England at all.


5) And of course, the beach.  Even with it’s freezing water. Even with the rocks. Even with the British sun, which is perpetually silver, and prompted Kathleen to say “Oh look the moon is already out,” at 2PM, to which I replied “Nope love that’s the sun,” and I still got a sunburn.

I will not publish anything incriminating, so I will not tell if you if any of my flatmates decided to embark upon a swim in her knickers.

You only study abroad once  ;-)

- Claire Rembecki (London Undergraduate Program, Fall 2014)

Photos ©Claire Rembecki

Check out Claire’s blog Trying London for Size



Posted on September 16, 2014 in LUP Fall 14, Rector Outings, Student Blog Competition Entries, Student voice by Emily

Cambridge Station by Sarah RobisonThis past weekend I had the absolutely pleasure of going back to Cambridge, England, where my family lived for two years when I was 8 years old. It was the first time I had been back since we moved away 11 years ago. The strange feeling of flashbacks mixed with pure joy mixed with this weird sensation of feeling like I was living in a dream truly is just indescribable. As I was walking through the streets that I had walked through 11 years before as a little girl, I could not stop smiling and thanking God for His countless blessings and for bringing me back full circle to where I lived when my biggest worry was being made fun of for my American accent.

Cambridge Midget by Sarah RobisonIt’s funny how every tiny problem always seems like such a huge deal at the time. And then, when we look back, we recognize that God holds all time and eternity in the palm of His hand. A tweet that I read this morning put it perfectly: You don’t need to know what tomorrow holds. All you need to know is the One who holds tomorrow.

My dear brothers and sisters, we live in a time period where worry and planning have taken over the pleasurable, day-to-day blessings that are so small and so beautiful. I have the honor of getting to spend my Thursday afternoons at a school in a city outside London with 120 students who are all diagnosed with some form of autism. One little girl, named Treasure, drew me a picture on my first day of class of four little hearts in the middle of the page. When I asked her why she drew it for me, she said “Simple. Cause I love you.” And all I could think about in that moment was Jesus.

That is the exact response that I believe He would say to us if we were to ask him questions about our future, about what we should do, who we should be, what graduate school we should go to, how we will ever possibly be able to pay off our student loans, the list goes on and on. I really believe that He would just hold us in His arms, smile and say “It’s simple Sarah. I love you.” These worries are microscopic at most when it comes to the God who created everything that was and is and is to come. He holds your heart and that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.

Cambridge by Sarah RobisonIt really is amazing the perspective you can gain from going back to a place where you lived as a young child and haven’t been back to since. In a way, it just felt so strange to be walking around the same place but 11 years later, with more than half of my life having been passed by since then. But in a truly beautiful and incredible way it just made me feel so much love from Jesus in a way that I have never felt before. My roommate’s binder has Exodus 14:14 written on it and I wish we could constantly remind ourselves of this over and over again when worry seems to creep into our lives: “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Thank You, Jesus, for your countless blessings that you pour out on our lives day after day, hour after hour. We are undeserving and we are in love with You. Save us, Savior of the world, for by Your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.

- Sarah Robison (London Undergraduate Program, Fall 2014)

Check out Sarah’s blog Remaining Unstained

Photos ©Sarah Robison

The London Design Festival

Posted on September 11, 2014 in Festivals, London, Things to do by Emily

Giant Chess, Trafalgar Square, London Design Festival 2009 by Chris BeckettThe London Design Festival begins this weekend and is a weeklong event celebrating London as a design capital of the world, bringing together the international creative community.  Whether you have an invested interest in art and design or contemporary living, or like me simply enjoy perusing quirky and unusual homeware and planning for that not-yet-attainable dream house, it’s definitely worth a visit!

What can I see?

The festival is principally made up of photography, art, and furniture exhibitions and installations, but there are also pop-up shops and studios, open-studio days, a chance to peruse current and new ranges in already-existing design shops, film screenings, panel discussion, and more!  If you’re a budding designer and want to know how to get into the design industry, make sure you check out the range of careers talks and workshops (including Graphics Weekend and Café SMUG), where you can get expert advice on matters such as jobs and portfolios.

There’s too much to choose from!

The London Design Festival includes so many events, some ticketed and some free, that it’s impossible to see it all.  After trawling the website, here are some interesting venues and events:

The Victoria and Albert Museum – the V&A has several installations, exhibitions, and displays going on throughout the festival (and beyond), including tours, workshops aimed specifically at young people this year’s main collection: Wedding Dress 1775-2014.  Graphics Weekend (mentioned above) will also take place at the museum, as well as Shakespeare 450 events.

Harrods – this year, Harrods is introducing a design trail, Harrods Is Design, showcasing exclusive global launches, such as Zaha Hadid’s debut homeware collection.  Hadid famously designed many buildings, including the ultra-modern London Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Olympics and the spectacular Roca London Gallery.  There’s nowhere better for window shopping and dreaming than Harrods!

The Living Installation – at this event, designers have a day to create a “space” using resources they can find on the high street and in the markets of Deptford.  Head on over and see what treasures the designers can find around and how they can turn them into something innovative and creative!

WikiHouse v4.0 – have you ever wanted to see a digitally printed house?  Now you can!  The house will be assembled outside The Building Centre during the Design Festival and there will be daily tours and evening events.  If you take along your smartphone, you can even connect to the WikiHouse WIFI and play around with the lighting and ventilation in the house!

Endless Stairs at the Tate Modern by Dave PearceTradeshows – the big showcases of the Design Festival are designjunction with designers and traders spanning four floors, and my personal favorite, Tent London (both from £8 entry).  Tent is now in its eighth year and has a variety of furniture, accessories, homeware, prints, and more on display.  Last year I enjoyed testing out a swinging dining table and chair set by Duffy London, and although most items were very pricey, just talking to the designers and dreaming of the ultimate home was worth it!

Also worth mentioning are the John Lewis 150 Years exhibition at the Design Museum, and meet the designers at Oxo Tower Wharf.  If you just want a good area to wonder around and browse, Shoreditch and Brixton tend to have a lot going on during the festival.

For more information on The London Design Festival, including times and prices, see the website.

- Emily (Communications and Planning Specialist)

Images by Chris Beckett and Dave Pearce under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

Open House London

Posted on September 10, 2014 in Festivals, London, Things to do by Emily

The London BFI IMAXWhat is it?

It’s a weekend when over 800 London buildings open their doors to the general public, free of charge. In other words, it is a real treat for anyone who is curious about the buildings that Londoners live in, work in, journey through, or depend on but never even notice!

What else is it?

Kind of overwhelming.  The first step to enjoying Open House London is to just accept the fact that you won’t be able to see everything, and give yourself permission to focus your energies on a few spots.

There are copies of the printed guide in the LUP Library, but for me, their website is my first port of call when planning my weekend. 

I’ve tried this a few different ways over the years, but what works best for me is to look at one particular part of the city, and keep my itinerary within a fairly tight area. This reduces the percentage of your day spent hiking / bussing / tubing between sites, and gives you the most flexibility when it comes to juggling time spent waiting in line vs heading to somewhere less popular on the fly.

(Other perfectly viable options I have tried in the past: one or two buildings at each stop down a tube line or bus route; that one place you really want to go to and anything else you trip over on route; by theme and ignore geography. Also the time we decided we were going to go to this really remote building, navigated by guesswork, got totally lost, walked for hours, never got to the building, but had an excellent day anyway, although I’m not sure I’d recommend that as an actual *plan*)

Leadenhall Building / May 2014There are a couple of things it’s worth knowing up front.

1) how you get into the buildings varies from building to building. Lots are just open to everyone, first come, first served, but others ask you to email ahead for tickets, are only open at particular times of day, or distributed tickets by lottery.

It’s worth doing a bit of pre-planning, so you don’t waste time rocking up somewhere that’s ticket only and sold out back in May.

2) Some of the sites that are open for free for Open House London are also open at other times. If the building is open to the public for free the rest of the year, the listing is tagged with an OP badge, but if it’s open for a fee at other times of year it’s not always obvious from the Open House listing, so it’s worth a quick search for the building’s own website to check this one.  On the one hand, this is a chance to get in for free, but on the other hand maybe it’s worth the entry fee some other time to free up time to go and see some other buildings that are only open this weekend.

Whether you’re interested in London’s architecture, its history, its present, or just nosy about how people live and work, Open House London is well worth a weekend.

- Miss Alice (London Undergraduate Program Librarian and Academic Program Coordinator)

Photos: Martin Pettitt via Compfight cc and Images George Rex via Compfight cc

Weekend in Oxford by Stephen Seitz

Posted on September 4, 2014 in LUP Fall 14, Rector Outings, Reviews, Student Blog Competition Entries, Student voice, Things to do by Emily

Christ Church by Stephen SeitzThis weekend we went to Oxford, which was pretty awesome. We started our day at Christ Church, which is home to the Dining Hall from Harry Potter, and an incredible cathedral. Afterwards, we spent the rest of the day exploring the Oxford College Botanical Gardens and campus, and a selection of 6 different pubs each with their own impressive history (and selection of pints!)

My favorite of these Public Houses would have to be the Turf Tavern, which is where (as the legends say), Bill Clinton “did not inhale”. We stopped there for lunch where I enjoyed some Black Dragon Cider, and we were back on our merry way to see the rest of what Oxford had to offer.

With a full week of classes under my belt, I can honestly say I’m really looking forward to this semester. All of my professors seem exceptionally knowledgable and genuinely interested in making this the best learning experience possible. I don’t get to start acting in the Globe Theatre until about halfway through the semester, but in the meantime I get to watch a few plays there!

Next week I’m off to Peak District, the oldest of Britain’s National Parks. More pictures and updates to follow then.


- Stephen Seitz (London Undergraduate Program, Fall 2014)

Image ©Stephen Seitz

First week in London by Glory Kim

Posted on September 2, 2014 in Competition Winners, LUP Fall 14, Student Blog Competition Entries, Student voice, Tips by Emily


Hi my name is Glory Kim and I am currently studying at the University of Notre Dame’s London Campus. Coming from New York, I was used to tall buildings and a busy atmosphere. After studying in South Bend for two years, I really wanted a change in my environment and a chance to be able to experience a different country. This has been my experience so far and I’m really glad to get the chance to share it with you guys!

It’s only been my first week here but this is going to be a couple of tips to the people who have YET to start their study abroad trip to London.

1. Get a Charles Schwab debit card or exchange cash at your bank. Converting money last minute is not something that you would want to do or stress out about. At the airport, they’re going to add on a whole lot of commission fee on it so I would say a week or so before you fly out, take a whole lot of cash and get that exchanged for pounds.

2. Costco, BJs, Walmart. Currently, the dollar is not doing so well. In addition to that, everything here is SUPER expensive. Basic things such as shampoo, detergent, and bedsheets can come out to almost twice what you would pay usually. Its going to be extremely heavy but I think that sometimes it can be worth it. Buy a bulk of tampons, shampoo & conditioner, CONTACT SOLUTION, and bed sheets.

3. Speaking of Food…. As an asian girl, there are so many asian chips that I miss. They have an asian market here in London but it’s a bit of a walk and chips that usually cost $1 will cost $3 about here. So if you crave that kind of stuff, bring some of your favorite home chips and goodies that you can eat when your bored.

4. Colder and rainier than expected. My flight to London was in August so I thought that it would be warm and brought about 5 pairs of shorts. But I wish I brought my winter jacket, more sweaters, and more jeans. And the rain here can get crazy so invest in an actual rain jacket NOT A TRENCH COAT, and bring an umbrella. I brought my Hunter boots with me but if you don’t want to bring rain boots with you, there’s waterproof spray you can use on your shoes!

5. Dolls, Pictures, Momentos. It’s only been a week or so since I came here and I miss my family, friends, and boyfriend so much. In the video, you can see my bed has two dolls: one was from my boyfriend, and the other from my best friend. They comfort me when I’m lonely and homesick. Bring a lot of photos or notes ..anything that will reminds you of how loved you are!

6. Unlock your phone. Since London is such a touristy place there are a lot of places such as VodaFone that you can go to for a sim card. BUT it’s crucial for you to unlock your phone before you leave the States. Otherwise, it’s going to lead into a whole bunch of mess and end with you having to use a non-smart phone with no camera. That’s no bueno! Call your phone provider a week before and ask how you can go through the process. ALSO chooseThree for your service provider. For 15pounds, you get unlimited data, 3000 minutes and 1500 text messages. Also, it doesn’t charge you for when you go internationally in 13 different countries.

7. Plan your travels. Come up with a list of places you want to go to and try to find other people who will want to visit those places too! If you’re able to plan earlier, chances are you will be able to get them at a cheaper price. But also, make sure that your plans don’t collide with your school work! I’m going to Paris this October and if we bought these tickets earlier instead of the month before, i’m sure it would have been a whole lot cheaper…

8. What to do during your free time. Bring running shoes. It’s the best way to explore a new place and I swear to you that they won’t go to waste! Maybe purchase a Nook or Kindle because there’s nothing better than to go to a great cafe and read your books. Bring heels and going out clothes. You want to experience the whole of London, you can’t forget about its nightlife! And also, there are so many broadways and musicals you can attend that require you to dress up.

9. Tell people you’re going away. First things first – tell your bank you won’t be in the United States anymore. If they see that your credit card has been used in various countries, they’re going to realize something is up and might suspend it. So make sure they know so they won’t freak out when you travel. Another thing, make sure people know how to contact you. So far, I’ve only been using Facebook and iMessage to communicate with my friends. But, I use Kakao Talk (FREE APP) to actually TALK on the phone with my family. I hear good things about WhatsAPP and Viber – both free apps you can download on your phone to talk to people internationally without charge.

But it’s seriously been such a great experience so far. I know that this semester is going to go by really quick so I’m trying to document it as much as possible. If you guys have any questions, please feel free ask!

- Glory Kim (London Undergraduate Program, Fall 2014)

You can follow Glory’s London 2014 blog here

BBC Proms

Posted on September 1, 2014 in Festivals, Things to do by Emily

Royal Albert Hall by Ania MendrekArguably the most famous seasonal classical music festival in the world, the BBC Proms are one of London’s great annual treasures. Founded by the great British conductor Sir Henry Wood more than a century ago, the festival now features more than 100 concerts each year during its eight-week summer season. The BBC began broadcasting every single concert in the festival beginning in 1927, and continues to this day. Most concerts are held in Kensington’s beautiful Royal Albert Hall, with a few of the afternoon events in the Cadogan Hall down the road in Chelsea. There is truly something for everyone in this festival, with the world’s finest classical performers appearing every year. This season features the works of German composer Richard Strauss among many others. You can hear the world’s premiere orchestras play Beethoven and Mahler symphonies, Mozart and Ravel piano concertos, masterpieces by British composers such as Edward Elgar, Gustav Holst, and William Walton, and the late Sir John Tavener. For something slightly different, there are big band concerts, staged performances of Kiss Me, Kate and War Horse, and even a Pet Shop Boys concert!

One of the unique features of this festival is “day-Promming”, a tradition that involves ‘queueing up’ outside the box office from about 2 1/2 hours before the concert for £5 tickets (what a steal!). The only trick is, your ticket is to stand on the ground in the center of the hall in front of the stage, rather than in an allocated seat. Just think about how close you can be to the action this way, though, and you can’t beat the price!

There are still a few weeks left of this season’s festival. The BBC website sets out what’s on in the coming days and if you see something you’ve missed or can’t make the performance, it should be available to listen (or watch in some cases) on the BBC iplayer for free.

Finally, the Last Night of the Proms, on September 13, is an annual event of national pride here in the UK. The final concert in the Albert Hall always features a special guest star who does a highlight performance before leading the audience singing British favorites like “Rule, Brittania”, “Jerusalem”, and “Land of Hope and Glory” (probably more familiar as Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance No. 1, heard at almost every high school graduation in the US). Tickets for the Albert Hall that night are pretty much impossible, but you can still get tickets for the sister celebration in Hyde Park. Also run by the BBC, Proms in the Park this year features Earth, Wind, and Fire, as well as plenty of other performers, and a fireworks display at the end.  And if all else fails, watch it live on TV!

- Josh (Rector, Conway Hall)

Photo by Ania Mendrek via Compfight cc


Posted on August 28, 2014 in Student Blog Competition Entries, Student voice by Emily

buses moving towards Tower Bridge by Beauty EyeAs my eyes looked out the window, and my heart started beating faster with the first sight of London, I knew a great adventure lay ahead of me. I was once again in a big city, in a city full with thousands of people from many different places, each of them with a different story that I wanted to hear. As the bus traveled through the city, my eyes were wide open, absorbing all those images that I had only seen in movies or photos. The bus driver started pointing out different sites of interest, touristic places you may say. With a thick British accent he said phrases of the style“…And to the right of this street, right there, there is the Ferrari store.” The amount of fascinating things I saw just from this bus ride made it clear for me that I was going to be walking quite a bit for the rest of the semester. That Thursday we arrived, my walking experience didn’t quite start. My mind and body were begging me to rest and stop resisting the jet lag, but, from personal experience, I knew that would be the wrong choice. Still, that night I was able to hit my first pub, and grab a nice cold local cider, hoping that the alcohol would keep me awake for a while longer. After an amazing night sleep, my walking adventure started. I attended all the meetings required by the program, but in any free time I had I just walked trying to find new places. In a city as big as this one, it is easy to pass by amazing places because you are in a hurry, or you just want to arrive to an X site that you heard about somewhere. You sometimes need to wander around slowly, looking at your surroundings. So far, I’ve been in a church which was inaugurated by Nelson Mandela; I saw an alley with amazing wedding decorations; I was in a boat that was transformed into a pub; I was in a Carnival where people were having a great time despite of the rain, and I saw an exhibit of Tattoo artist which blew my mind. I know eventually I’ll have to plan my days to go to museums and other iconic places, but wandering around will keep being my main way of discovering the city. You never know what you will find in the streets of this city.

- Santiago Martínez (London Undergraduate Program, Fall 2014)

Photo by Beauty Eye via Compfight cc

Notting Hill Carnival

Posted on August 21, 2014 in Celebrations, Customs and Traditions, Festivals, London, Things to do by Emily


Notting Hill Carnival is an annual bank holiday festival of Caribbean music, dance, and food.  Live steel bands play through the streets, while more modern sounds such R&B and Funk are blasted through sound systems, and local bands take to the stages.  As Calypso and Soca vibes fill the air, enjoy dishes like jerk chicken, curried goat, and rice and peas, fried plantain, and more!


Notting Hill Carnival celebrates tradition and culture and its roots stem from anti-slavery carnivals in countries like Trinidad.  In times of slavery, festivities were not permitted so once it was abolished the celebrations also represented freedom.  The carnival fashion, or masquerade, was a mimic of the European masters.

The first carnival-type celebration was around 1959 in St. Pancras Town Hall.  It had various elements of a carnival including singing, dancing, and steel bands.  Over the next few years in continued to take place in various locations around London and the UK, eventually incorporating beauty competitions, and then masquerade.  These celebrations came to an end in 1964 when the founder, Claudia Jones, passed away.  However, a new carnival developed from the London Notting Hill Fair, which was introduced to release the frustrations of the struggling local population.

The first Notting Hill Carnival, as it is now known, took place in 1966 and continued to adapt and develop, despite various obstacles such as racial tensions of the 1970s.

More about today’s Carnival

NHCarnival13 21

Sunday at the Carnival is known as Family Day, but it is no less vibrant or busy.  There is a children’s parade along the streets of Notting Hill, a World Music Stage full of performers and emerging artists, and workshops for all the family.

On Monday, the Grand Finale, the main parade takes to the streets, with floats, performers, and pop-up street food stalls and bars.

Stay Safe!

Notting Hill Carnival is hugely popular and is fast becoming one of the biggest celebrations of it’s kind in the world.  To say there are crowds is an understatement so staying safe is of utmost importance.  It is advisable to wear sturdy shoes (you don’t want to get trodden on in flip flops!), plan ahead, arrange a meeting point with your friends in case you get split up, keep an eye on your personal belongings, and don’t draw attention to your phones, cameras and wallets, etc.

- Emily (Communications and Planning Specialist)

Photo: R Schofield via Compfight cc and DancesWithLight via Compfight cc