The Notting Hill Carnival

What is it?

The Notting Hill Carnival is the largest street celebration in Europe, covering over twenty miles the west London and gathering more than one million party-goers.

It takes place on the last weekend Bank Holiday of the summer in the UK; on Sunday 25th and Monday 26th of August, from 9am to around 7pm. With Sunday the 26th been the best day to go with children.

Whereas Sunday is dedicated to kids and family, the main parade takes place on Monday. It starts on Great Western Road, goes past Chepstow Road and Westbourne Grove, to complete in Ladbroke Road. When the floats have left the streets, after parties begin for the rashest revellers!

How to get there?

The nearest underground stations are Nothing Hill Gate station, Royal Oak station and Westbourne Park station but because of the large crowds, which are to be expected on these exits between 11am and 6pm. You might want to use other nearby stations, which will be quieter (and with less exit restrictions) but a little more distant to walk to, such as Bayswater station, Queensway station and Paddington station.

Bear in mind that this event will attract a multitude of people; so you should try dress in a comfortable and wear sensible footwear! Here are some useful tips for the day:

  • The earlier you arrive the easier it will be to get to the action
  • Leave flip-flops and sandals at home that day
  • Avoid carrying expensive items, such as jewellery and digital cameras. Take a bag with a secure zip to keep your more valuable possessions in and avoid putting your valuables in your back pocket.
  • Drink plenty of water on the day too, especially if it’s sunny
  • Arrange meeting points in case you become separated
  • Ear plugs might be handy, especially for very young children
  • Plan your toilet stops to avoid queues, and bring your own loo roll and hand sanitiser

What about the music? 

You will find over forty different static music systems at the Notting Hill Carnival. Most of them will play Calypso music, Reggae and Soca music, and even some hip-hop. Therefore you can choose your spot(s) based on your favourite music by checking in advance the full list of sound systems here

One of the most popular attractions are “Steel Bands”. If you enjoy  Steel Band sounds, you will love the Panorama Steel Band Competition, which will take place one day before the start of the carnival, on Saturday August 24th, at Emslie Horniman Pleasance (tube: Westbourne Park) at 6pm (free). A great way to get in the carnival mood!

What about food?

Notting Hill Carnival is not only about music, it’s also a major event for all the foodies out there. The carnival is full of food stalls. A brilliant opportunity to taste Caribbean cooking such as jerk chicken, curried goat and many various variations of rice and beans. And don’t forget to try the delicious  coconut water with a shot of rum, in the Trinidad custom!

For more information visit the official web site of the Notting Hill Carnival