For carnival colours visit London this August


If you want to get some sunshine in your life without breaking the bank, London is the place for you this month. It’s certainly not *all* about the Olympics. Whatever the weather  we can definitely forecast a tropical atmosphere on August Bank Holiday Weekend.

Since 1966 the West Indian community has come together on the last weekend of August to create a celebration of culture, food and music that will have you convinced you’re in sunnier climes. Whether you’re looking for a family day out, a spectacular date or a great way to have fun with friends, there’s sure to be a carnival experience to suit your style.

The parade itself is the main event, when hundreds of volunteers put on a spectacular moving show for an impressive 10 hours.  Steel drum bands , DJ’s and Caribbean-style musicians provide the soundtrack to which a cast of fabulous dancers perform on the move. The real stars of the show are the spectacular outfits – taking bling to a new level, these ‘Mas’ costumes feature giant swathes of feathers and material in eye-popping carnival colours. Expect to see some flesh too – many of the ensembles might resemble swimwear on steroids to the uninitiated – but it’s all good, family friendly, feathery, rhinestone-encrusted fun.

For all you foodies, the carnival is a fantastic place to sample Caribbean cuisine. You can’t visit Notting Hill Carnival without trying the succulent jerk chicken, cooked in traditional barrel-shaped drums . The smoky bbq aroma fills the air and will leave you hungry for more, so why not grab a side of delicious grilled corn, salad or traditional rice and peas? All the better to soak up a cold Red Stripe with…

If you have small ones in tow, or are a little nervous of the main event’s party hard reputation, try Sunday for Family Day. You’ll enjoy the parade and costume competitions in a relaxed, child-friendly atmosphere and the kids love it. If you’d rather get your dance on with (adult) friends, check out Bank Holiday Monday. Not only will you enjoy the full parade until 7pm, but there are a whole host of awesome after-parties lines up for the stop-outs amongst you. There’s nothing better than sitting in the sunshine (we hope!) with your friends, enjoying a drink and some Caribbean fare whilst listening to some of the amazing music on offer – from Calypso and Samba to dub step, there really is a bit of everything.

Families Day is Sunday 26th August and Adults Day is Monday 27th August. The Carnival Bands will take to the roads from around 9am on the Sunday and the same time on the Monday. The Carnival parade should complete its procession by 7pm. Please make sure to drink plenty of water and bring sunscreen if the weather’s good – it can get pretty hot out there!