The place of urban cultural heritage festivals: The case of London’s Notting Hill Carnival

Ernest Taylor, Moya Kneafsey

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    Urban cultural heritage festivals have a long tradition of contributing to the cultural and economic development of towns and cities around the world. Moreover, the increasing role of culture in city making has rendered them spaces of consumption, entertainment, pleasure, and festivity. Large European events such as London’s Notting Hill Carnival, Berlin’s Carnival of Cultures, and the Rotterdam Summer Carnival attract huge global audiences. Despite being mass gatherings where representations can be extreme, virtual, and somewhat fleeting, the intensity and intimacy of social interactions generated at festivals can induce a sense of belonging. Festivals are thus sites where community values, identity and cultural continuity are performed. In this sense, they are connected to cultures and to places, can help bind people to their communities, foster and reinforce group identity, and are central to the transmission of tradition. The ephemerality of festivals, as well as the inconvenience, expense, and gentrification-effects to which such large scale events can contribute, has led to questions about their ability to sustain community cohesion and socioeconomic wellbeing. Drawing on the example of London’s Notting Hill Carnival, this chapter explores the extent to which urban cultural heritage festivals can be regarded as catalysts in the promotion of community cohesion. Findings from this exploratory study suggest that the event promotes a sense of belonging and cohesion in an urban space, particularly amongst younger age groups in the community, as well as festivalgoers more generally.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationCultural Heritage in a Changing World
    PublisherSpringer Verlag
    Number of pages16
    ISBN (Electronic)9783319295442
    ISBN (Print)9783319295428
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2016


    • Notting Hill Carnival
    • Cohesion
    • Sense of belonging
    • Cultural heritage

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Sciences(all)
    • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
    • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
    • Arts and Humanities(all)
    • Computer Science(all)


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