Ready for London’s biggest street party? Notting Hill Carnival is one of the most exciting events on London’s calendar and this year it’s taking place on Bank holiday weekend (26th -27th August). This vibrant colourful carnival is a massive celebration of London’s Caribbean communities. Two million people attended last year, but if you’ve never been before, you might want to take some pointers. Expect massive sound systems, Caribbean music, plenty of jerk chicken and a huge parade that will go through Notting Hill and the surrounding area.
WEAR COMFY SHOES
You’ll be standing the whole time while you’re at Notting Hill Carnival so wear comfortable shoes, preferably some trainers if you feel like dancing! There will also be a lot of people on the roads celebrating Carnival, so watch your feet don’t get trodden on and try and avoid wearing open toe sandals.
FIND A GOOD SPOT
Try not to base yourself next to a thumping sound system. Notting Hill Carnival gets pretty loud. If you want to take cool photos of the parade, try and get there a little early and find a nice spot near the front. On the Saturday, you’ll want to be positioned for the parade on Canal Way in Ladbroke Grove.
PICK A MEETING POINT
Telling your friends to simply “meet me at Notting Hill Carnival” is much easier said than done. Make sure you both know a specific place where you can meet or you could spend all day looking for each other in the crowds!
HOW TO GET THERE
The best way to get to Notting Hill Carnival is by public transport - don’t drive. London’s tubes are the best way to travel to Notting Hill. Tubes over the bus all the way. Keep in mind that roads around the Carnival area are going to be made pedestrianised, so taking a bus may mean having to walk some of the way. There will also be a lot of traffic around London on Bank Holiday weekend, too so driving could be risky.
BRING WATER AND SUNSCREEN
If the August Bank holiday weather stays as amazing as it has been over the past 6 weeks, be sure to bring a bottle of water. It could be hot! Who knew London was capable of heatwaves? Don’t forget to pack sunscreen, too.
EAT THE CARIBBEAN FOOD
Caribbean food stalls will be set up all over west London for the weekend, and you’ve gotta try it. Goat curry, fried plantains and (of course) jerk chicken will all be sizzling away while you party. You won’t be able to resist the smell of Caribbean-spiced chicken in the air!
WATCH OUT FOR TRAVEL CHANGES
The Central line will be open for the whole weekend for Queensway, Notting Hill Gate and Holland Park, and the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines will be serving Westbourne Park, Ladbroke Grove and Latimer Road. BUT, be aware that these stations (and neighbouring stations) may be closed at any time due to overcrowding. Check tfl.com for any tube travel updates.
CARRY SOME CASH
While Notting Hill Carnival entry is free, make sure you carry some money. Cashpoints will be pretty busy around the area so get some cash out before you start making your way there. Some food and drink stalls may not accept card payments, and you don’t wanna miss out on some of the best grub.
PICK YOUR DAY TO SUIT YOU
If you’re after a wild party then Bank Holiday Monday is your day. Sunday is also great fun with a more toned down party vibe. Family day is on the Sunday which will be more child friendly and little quieter. If you are with children, we recommend going early on Sunday.
An essential to wipe your grubby hands after all that jerk chicken. You may also want to come aided with hand sanitizer as the portaloos could also be a bit grubby.
HEAD TO PLEASANCE PARK FOR LIVE CARIBBEAN MUSIC
Throughout Sunday be sure to head to Pleasance Park and catch the live music on the stages going right into the night. Sample incredible foods from vendors while listening to all kinds of Caribbean inspired music from 38 different sound systems.
HAVE A CARNIVAL MAP TO HAND
The official Carnival map will ensure you get around from place to place while avoiding the barricaded roads. These maps will be given out on the day.
STAY ON THE SIDES
People go crazy for this carnival, which means there are often sudden rushes of people in the middle of crowds. Stick to the sides to be safe as this really isn’t as fun as it might sound!
Notting Hill Carnival can sometimes get a little bit rough, as with any major event where there will be lots of drunk people. There will be plenty of police around and the majority of the time, there’s nothing to worry about. Just be aware of your surroundings, look out for your friends and stay safe.
Pack as much fun, colour and glitter into your carnival outfit as you can! Pay tribute and show you love for Caribbean culture and don the colours from the flags.
THE PORTALOO QUEUES WILL BE LONG
You’d better think about your toilet break plan before you start drinking all the rum cocktails… Queues at the portaloos get HUGE. But remember that local residents often open up their bathrooms for people to use for a few pounds. Another reason to remember your cash!
BE PREPARED TO GET MESSY
The photo says it all...