Never been to Notting Hill Carnival in London? If you’re a tourist visiting the big city this summer and you’re wondering what Notting Hill Carnival is, then we’ve got you covered with our fact file to London’s biggest street party. Being the city’s biggest event in August, Notting Hill Carnival is definitely a party you should consider attending - plus it’s free. Here is everything you need to know about it…
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What is Notting Hill Carnival?
Notting Hill Carnival is UK’s biggest celebration of Caribbean culture that takes place every year on the streets of London. If you’re visiting the city as a tourist in August, you should definitely check it out - it’s free! Located throughout the pleasant pocket of Notting Hill, locals and tourists come together every summer to party hard at the carnival to show their love for Caribbean culture. You can enjoy great food, dancing and music that all reflect the laid back Caribbean way of life. Being a multicultural city with a large Caribbean community, the carnival attracts over one million people every year from all backgrounds and skin colours making it one of the world’s biggest street parties.
A great place to experience the vibrant Caribbean culture, Carnival plays hosts to calypso dancing, street performers, reggae, meringue, rumba, and zouk music.
Where is it?
Notting Hill Carnival takes place in the Royal London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, which is actually the smallest London Borough. This vibrant area is upmarket and a highly sought after place to live in the city. It’s also a multicultural hub, especially around Portobello Road where you can experience the energy and life at the weekly market. Taking place around several different streets around Notting Hill, the Carnival brings joy and a party atmosphere to the entire area. What is usually a fairly quiet neighbourhood of London, for the two days of August bank holiday it becomes the busiest place in the city.
How did it start?
Every year Carnival injects flavour and fun into the streets of London, but it didn’t always used to be that way. In fact, the roots of the Carnival holds significant importance and should not be sidelined or ever forgotten about. Notting Hill Carnival actually commemorates victims from the African Carribean community who were hurt or abused in the 1958 Notting Hill race riots, a series of racially motivated, violent riots. These riots took place at a time when there was an increase of African-Carribean migrants to London after WW2 and racism was unfortunately prominent in society.
A Caribbean Carnival, which later became known as Notting Hill Carnival, was held on 30th January 1959 as a response to the riots to uplift the community and settle down race relations.
When is it?
Thinking about attending? Notting Hill Carnival is held over two days during the August bank holiday weekend. This year (2019) it falls on Sunday 25th - Monday 26th August. Being a public holiday England, Monday is always a bigger celebration that lasts until 10pm in the evening.
Sunday is ‘Family Day’ where it less crowded, safer and the best time to bring young children along. Carnival takes place from 6am in the morning and carries out throughout the whole day.
How do I get there?
During Carnival weekend the roads around Notting Hill become heavily congested and many are closed off and made pedestrianised for the street party. The best way to travel to Notting Hill Carnival is by public transport. The closest tube station is Notting Hill Gate, Queen’s Way, Holland Park, Ladbroke Grove. Be aware that these stations can be closed at any time during Carnival due to overcrowding to keep up to date any issues on tfl.com.
What is there to eat and drink?
For a taste of Carribean food, there’s no better place to fill your stomach than Notting Hill Carnival. Carribbrean food is very flavoursome and hearty so expect lots of tasty options for lunch during Carnival weekend.
So what’s on the menu?
Seasoned jerk chicken Traditional goat curry Plantain Callaloo Tropical drinks and pina coladas
What to be careful of?
Notting Hill Carnival is great fun but make sure to stay safe. In the past, the festival has been known to get quite rowdy, particularly on the Monday. There will be plenty of police about keeping everyone safe but be wary of pickpockets or any troublemakers.