The world famous Notting Hill Carnival takes places in London’s west this weekend. The biggest event of its kind in Europe, the programme kicks off Saturday evening (from 6pm to 10pm) with a steel band music competition and more Caribbean-themed outdoor entertainment in Emslie Horniman Pleasance Park. Sunday features the Children’s Parade, performances at the World Music Stage in Powis Square and static sound systems and food stalls at Emslie Horniman Pleasance Park (from 9am to 8.30pm). The Grand Finale parade on Monday features dancers, performers, 60 steel bands and mobile sound systems with more music and food stalls in the parade area as well as on the World Music Stage in Powis Square. This year’s event will also feature a minute’s silence at 3pm on both Sunday and Monday to remember the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire disaster. For more, see www.thelondonnottinghillcarnival.com or Visit London’s special guide. PICTURE: Eddie Starck/Flickr/CC-BY-2.0

Tate Modern is offering a limited number of free tickets to Soul of a Nation: Art in an Age of Black Power exhibition this Friday night (August’s Uniqlo Tate Late event) to coincide with the Notting Hill Carnival weekend. The tickets will be offered a first come, first serve basis from 6pm. The exhibition, which explores what is meant to be an African American artist during the civil rights movement and at the birth of the Black Power movement, runs until 22nd October. For more, see www.tate.org.uk.

On Now: The City is Ours. This major interactive exhibition at the Museum of London explores some of the key issues that affect Londoners and city dwellers elsewhere the world – from housing affordability and urban planning to transport, green spaces and air quality. Spread across three of the museum’s temporary exhibition spaces, key exhibits include a nine metre wide film, Urban Earth, which visualises and compares data from major cities around the world, an Oculus Rift headset which delivers a virtual view from the top of a Hong Kong skyscraper illustrating the impact of building upwards instead of outwards, and an exhibit which allows visitors to control and monitor CCTV cameras as they reflect on the impacts of increased surveillance. The free exhibition – at the heart of the museum’s year long focus on City Now City Future – can be seen until 2nd January. For more, see www.museumoflondon.org.uk/thecityisours.

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The Notting Hill Carnival, the largest street festival in Europe, is celebrating its 50th birthday this Bank Holiday weekend. Events at the west London-based celebration of Caribbean culture, music, food and drink include a Children’s Day on Sunday with a parade for children, performances on the World Music Stage at Powis Square as well as food and drink (runs from 10am to 8.30pm); and, the main event, the 3.5 mile long Monday Parade and Grand Finale featuring 60 bands, performances at the World Music Stage as well as food and other activities (runs from 10am to 8.30pm). For more, see www.thenottinghillcarnival.com.

St-Paul's St Paul’s Cathedral, created after Old St Paul’s was destroyed in the Great Fire of London, has been marking the 350th anniversary of that event with a special programme of walks, talks, tours, special sermons and debates. Running until next April, they include special ‘fire tours’ of the cathedral, a special ‘family trail’ through the cathedral (which you can download for free), and Triforium tours in which you can see carved stones from Old St Paul’s and Sir Christopher Wren’s ‘great model’ of the new cathedral. In addition, an exhibition featuring a collection of pre-Great Fire artefacts, Out of the Fire, opens on 1st September (admission included in cathedral admission charge) and the cathedral will be kept open for two nights next week until 9pm, on 2nd and 3rd September. For the full programme of events, bookings and more information, head to www.stpauls.co.uk/fire.

On Now – Stomping Grounds: Photographs by Dick Scott-Stewart. This free exhibition at the Museum of London features images taken by the relatively unknown London-based photographer in the late 1970s and early 1980s, depicting everyone from the New Romantics of Covent Garden and Rockabillies of Elephant and Castle to wrestling matches at the Battersea Arts Centre and punks congregating on the Kings Road. The exhibition features 38 photographs and other “ephemera”. Entry is free. Closes on 18th September. For more, see www.museumoflondon.org.uk.

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It’s the quintessential London film – the story of a bookshop owner, William Thacker (played by Hugh Grant), whose life takes a romantic turn when a famous American actress Anna Scott (played by Julia Roberts) comes into his shop. And, as the name suggests, it’s set in the west London district known as Notting Hill. 

Notting-Hill-posterThe centrepiece of the 1999 film, which was directed by Richard Curtis, is the Portobello Road Market (pictured above, see more on the history of the market here) but the film also depicts other aspects of the area.

These include the Coronet Cinema, and, of course, the now famous blue door in Westbourne Park Road which represents the entry to Thacker’s flat (it was apparently actually Curtis’ home).

There’s plenty of other London sites in Notting Hill as well – The Ritz hotel in Piccadilly where Anna Scott stays, the Savoy Hotel where a press conference is held and the historic Hampstead Heath home featured (or rather not) in last week’s film Belle, Kenwood House – this time as a film set in a movie Anna is making.

Notting Hill, meanwhile, has long been a popular site for films – everything from The Italian Job (the Michael Caine version) through to another recent Richard Curtis film About Time (2013) has been filmed here.

Photo-by-Wayne-G-callender-(2)The August Bank Holiday is upon us which means it’s carnival time! The Notting Hill Carnival kicks off this Sunday with an extravaganza of costumes, dancing, music and food. The carnival’s origins go back to the late Fifties and early Sixties (the exact date is somewhat controversial!) when it started as a way of Afro-Caribbean communities celebrating their cultures and traditions, drawing on the tradition of carnivals in the Caribbean. The carnival is now Europe’s largest street festival and this year’s parade signifies the start of a three year celebration in the lead-up to the Golden Jubilee year of 2016. The carnival kicks off at 9am on Sunday – children’s day – and the same time on Monday – adult’s day – and organisers say the procession should be completed by 7pm. For more, see www.thelondonnottinghillcarnival.com. PICTURE: Wayne G Callender/Notting Hill Carnival.

A pop-up display of some of St Paul’s Cathedral’s treasures will appear today and tomorrow (Thursday, 21st August, and Friday 22nd August) in the cathedral’s crypt. Put together by Museum Studies students from Leicester University, the display will feature items relating to a royal event from each of the first three centuries of Wren’s church. They include images and objects from the Thanksgiving Service for the recovery of King George III in 1789 as well as items from Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 and the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana in 1981. The display will be shown from 1pm to 2pm each day – entry is free via the cathedral’s north west crypt door. Meanwhile, the cathedral is offering a private, behind the scenes evening photography tour of the building for the winner of a photography competition looking for “the most surprising image” of the cathedral. The winner – and five friends – will also be treated to a meal at the Grange Hotel’s Benihama restaurant. The Surprise St Paul’s competition runs until 26th September and entrants just need to tweet or post their images to the church’s Twitter or Facebook pages with the hashtag #SurpriseStPauls. For more, see www.stpauls.co.uk.

The National Gallery has made free wi-fi available throughout the building. The Trafalgar Square-based gallery says it’s now also welcoming visitor photography and is encouraging visitors to check in on Facebook and comment on Twitter using the hashtag #MyNGPainting. For more, see www.nationalgallery.org.uk.

Fancy yourself a detective? The Museum of London and the BFI are asking for the public’s help in tracking down a copy of the first ever feature film starring the fictional character Sherlock Holmes.  A Study in Scarlet was released 100 years ago this autumn and was directed by George Pearson with then unknown James Bragington playing the part of Holmes. An adaption of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s story of the same name, it is based around Brigham Young’s trek across America with his Mormon followers and sees Holmes solve a series of murders. The film was made at Worton Hall studios and on location in Cheddar Gorge and Southport Sands in 1914. The organisations are seeking the film in the lead-up to the Museum of London’s landmark exhibition on Holmes which opens in October. If you do happen to find the film, you can write to Sherlockholmes@bfi.org.uk or make contact via social media using the hashtag #FindSherlock.

A public ballot has opened for tickets to attend the art installation Fire Garden by renowned French troupe Carabosse at Battersea Power Station this September. The event – which will be held on the nights of Friday 5th and Saturday 6th September – is one of the highlights of Totally Thames, a month-long celebration of London’s great river, and is presented as a tribute to the power station before it’s closed to the public for redevelopment. A free event, it’s expected to be so popular that organisers are holding a ballot for tickets. The ballot closes midday on 27th August. To enter via the Totally Thames website, head here.

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• Two versions of Vincent van Gogh’s iconic Sunflowers have been reunited for the first time in 65 years in London at the National Gallery. The two paintings – one from the National Gallery and the other from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam – come from a five-painting series the artist created in 1888 while staying in Arles. They were apparently painted while he was waiting for his friend Paul Gaugain to arrive and were to decorate the bedroom Gaugain would stay in as gift to him. The free display in Room 46 of the Trafalgar Square Gallery and will be shown until 27th April. Meanwhile, the gallery is celebrating the donation of another van Gogh – Head of a Peasant Woman, the first early work by the artist to enter its collection. It is one of a series of around 40 portraits of the peasants of the village of Nuenen, in The Netherlands, which were painted in late 1884/early 1885. For more, see www.nationalgallery.org.uk.

West Indian cricketer and politician Sir Learie Constantine’s former home in Earl’s Court has been commemorated with an English Heritage Blue Plaque. Constantine, who played a significant role in securing the independence of Trinidad and Tobago and as an advocate for black people, was the first person of African descent to sit in the House of Lords. He lived at the property at 101 Lexham Gardens between 1949-1954. For more, see www.english-heritage.org.uk/discover/blue-plaques/.

On Now: The Anatomy of a Suit. This free display at the Museum of London looks at  the technicalities of making a suit and the city’s influence on menswear globally. Exhibits include a double-breasted pinstripe jacket from about 1965, a morning jacket from about 1927 and a black dress suit from about 1933 – all of which was sourced by curator Timothy Long from markets including Brick Lane, Broadway and Portobello Road. Runs until June. For more, see www.museumoflondon.org.uk.

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The address might not immediately ring a bell but it will when we tell you this was the home of London’s most famous bear, Paddington.

Paddington-BearFirst appearing in A Bear Called Paddington published on 13th October, 1958, Paddington Bear was the brainchild of Michael Bond, who was apparently inspired a couple of years earlier when he spotted a lonely teddy bear sitting on a shop shelf in a store near Paddington Station (a bear which he subsequently bought and gave to his wife as a Christmas present).

In the books, Paddington – who is typically depicted wearing a blue duffel coat, old hat and Wellington boots – was found at Paddington Railway Station by the Brown family with a note asking that he be looked after (he had been a stowaway on board a ship from Peru, put their by his Aunt Lucy who had gone to a retirement home in Lima).

Naming him Paddington after being unable to say his Peruvian name (it turns out later to be Pastuso), the family take the bear back to their large semi-detacted home at 32 Windsor Gardens, just around the corner from the station (his room ends up being located at the top of the house).

A Windsor Gardens does actually exist but it apparently has no connection with the Browns’ address which is said to have been wholly imaginary. The real Windsor Gardens is a tiny and rather unappealing cul-de-sac off Harrow Road, between Notting Hill and Maida Vale, and doesn’t even have a number 32.

Paddington, known for his love of marmalade, went on to appear in 13 books by Bond – selling more than 30 million copies around the world – and has been the subject of numerous other versions and spin-offs and even a couple of TV series. There’s also a movie in the works with a projected release date of Christmas 2014 and he’s also depicted in a statue by Marcus Cornish at Paddington Station.

For more on Paddington, see www.paddingtonbear.com.

PICTURE:  Lonpicman/Wikimedia Commons

Established far more recently than many of the other markets we’ve looked at, the origins of a market in Portobello Road in London’s inner west only go back to the mid-to-late 19th century.

The oddly named road (it takes its name from the Battle of Porto Bello in the wonderfully named ‘War of Jenkins’ Ear’ between Britain and Spain in the mid 18th century – more on that in an upcoming What’s in a Name? post), was transformed from a mere laneway, known as Greens Lane, to a larger thoroughfare in the mid 180os as the area developed and the market started to take shape in the 1880s.

These days the street market can stretch for a mile along Portobello Road from Golborne Road in the north to Chepstow Villas in the south.

It offers everything from fruit and vegetables and various foodstuffs (sold particularly at the northern end and along Golborne Road itself, known as Golborne Market as well around Elgin Crescent) through to vintage and alternative clothing, music and other bric-a-brac (a section in the middle, around the Westway flyover, specialises in this – this area includes the Acklam Village Market and the Portobello Green Fashion Market) and the world famous antiques market (down at the south end, closer to Notting Hill Gate Tube station – Saturday is the key day here).

Different sections of the market open on different days – there’s a great map showing what opens when on the Portobello and Golborne Markets website here) – but Saturdays and Sundays are sure to find the area packed with people. The street is also lined with independently owned shops (including the colourful buildings above) and arcades and, as well as street food stalls, there’s plenty of pubs, cafes and restaurants where you can get a bite to eat.

There is currently a campaign to have Portobello Road declared Britain’s first “business conservation area” with the aim of preserving the character of the market. Head here for more details.

WHERE: Portobello Road, Notting Hill (nearest Tube stations are Notting Hill Gate or Ladbroke Grove); WHEN: Trading hours vary, see websites for details; COST: Free; WEBSITE(S): www.rbkc.gov.uk/subsites/visitkensingtonandchelsea/shopping/portobello/ourmarkets/portobelloroadmarket.aspxhttp://shopportobello.co.uk/.

Claire Lomas, an event rider paralysed from the chest down who became the first person to complete a marathon in a bionic suit when she finished the London Marathon in April, is applauded by Lord Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Prime Minister David Cameron and the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, after lighting a ‘celebration cauldron’ in Trafalgar Square (with the National Gallery in the background). The event, using the English National Flame which was originally created at Scafell Pike, was part of the Paralympic Flame’s visit to London last Friday during which it was taken to various landmarks across London including the Houses of Parliament, Notting Hill ahead of last weekend’s Notting Hill Carnival, and the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. During the event in Trafalgar Square, 26 ‘Flame ambassadors’ each collected a ‘splinter’ of the Flame in a lantern to take to various Flame celebrations being held around the country over the past few days. The Flame visits London again this Wednesday in the 24 hour Torch Relay leading up to the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympic Games on Wednesday night. For more on the Paralympic Torch Relay, see www.london2012.com/paralympics/torch-relay/PICTURE: LOCOG. 

• The Notting Hill Carnival – the largest festival of its kind in Europe – takes place in London’s west this Sunday and bank holiday Monday. More than a million people are expected top attend to see the floats, listen to the traditional steel drum bands and sample some of the food found at the hundreds of stalls along the streets of Notting Hill.  Sunday, when the costume prizes are awarded, has been designated as Children’s Day and Monday, when the main parade takes place, as Adult’s Day. The festival has been held every summer since 1966. For more, see www.thenottinghillcarnival.com.

• With the memories of the Olympics still fresh in our minds, it’s time to turn our attention to the impending Paralympics and associated events including the 24 hour Torch Relay which hits London next Wednesday, just before the Opening Ceremony. The torch enters London at Watford and and then moves south through the city, taking in many of London’s most famous landmarks as it visits all six boroughs before arriving at the Olympic Stadium. For more on the route, see www.london2012.com/paralympics/torch-relay/route/. Meanwhile, as with the Olympics, those who don’t have tickets to the Paralympics will be able to watch on a giant screen at Trafalgar Square daily between 11am and 10pm where there will also be live music and activities including the chance to try out a range of Paralympic sports. For more, see www.btlondonlive.com/trafalgar-square. Tower Bridge, meanwhile, is undergoing a makeover with the installation of the Paralympics symbol, Agistos, tomorrow following the earlier removal of the Olympic Rings. Historic projections, meanwhile, will once again appear on the Houses of Parliament. Other events taking place around the Paralympic Games include Surprises: What You Will: Pop-Up Shakespeare – which will see Shakespearean characters like Juliet, Hamlet and Puck suddenly appearing and performing at “cultural hotspots” around the city (the exact time and location of the performances will remain a surprise until the day but you can register for updates at www.molpresents.com/surprises or follow @molpresents and @London2012Fest.

• A series of artworks by South African-born Expressionist Albert Adams are on show at the Imperial War Museum this summer. The works on show include the last painting he completed before his death in 2006 – title Abu Ghraib, it was inspired by reports of abuse perpetrated at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq – as well as a series of etchings Adams created between 2001 and 20064 which address conflicts like that Iraq War and Darfur. Admission is free. For more, see www.iwm.org.uk.

On Now: Anatomy of an Athlete – Elite sport, surgery and medical art. This exhibition in the Qvist Gallery at the Royal College of Surgeons’ Hunterian Museum in Lincoln’s Inn Fields features new artworks by world-leading medical artists which explore the anatomy and physiology of elite athletes. The art works come in a variety of forms – watercolour, video and sculpture – and represent the human body in a selection of sports and para-sports. Admission if free. Runs until 29th September. For more, see www.rcseng.ac.uk/museums/.