Getting into the carnival spirit
It’s finally bank holiday weekend, which means the biggest date in the London diary: the Notting Hill Carnival! Whether you’re an annual carnival-goer, or if this is your first time, here is a quick guide to an easy yet unforgettable Notting Hill Carnival experience…
Notting Hill Carnival is London’s biggest street festival, started in 1964, and is now one of the largest street festivals in Europe. It is a vibrant and eclectic celebration of London’s multicultural and Caribbean heritage. West London’s streets will be filled with floats and accompanied by Caribbean music, dancing, and mouth-watering food. According to surveys, it’s one of the top 10 must-see carnivals in the world.
The Notting Hill Carnival starts on Sunday August 28th and continues into Monday August 29th. Floats and bands usually start from 9am and carry on until 7pm, but the party is sure to carry on well into the night.
The carnival takes place throughout W10, and takes over Notting Hill, Ladbroke Grove and Westbourne Park.
Public transport is by far the best way to get there. Why not take the tube to the outskirts and join the party walking towards the parade route? The nearest tube stations without major disruptions are Holland Park, High Street Kensington, Queen's Park, Shepherd's Bush, Bayswater and Paddington. The carnival snakes through the areas surrounding Notting Hill Gate, Royal Oak, and Westbourne Park stations, although these stations will have restrictions in place. Make sure you pre-plan your journey at https://tfl.gov.uk/plan-a-journey/.
- Wear shoes you can move in! It involves a lot of walking (and dancing) so comfort is key.
- Bring attire for all weathers! Some years are scorching, whilst others are chilly and wet. Check the latest weather report beforehand and take sun cream and a lightweight waterproof if possible.
- According to a survey carried out by Kensington Borough, the biggest complaint from festival fans were the lack of loos. They may be a queue, and they may not be in the best of states. Pack your own tissues and anti-bac hand gel just in case.
- Bring change! The streets are filled with pop-up stalls, as well as more traditional Caribbean food shops, so make sure you carry some cash to enjoy a bit of what you fancy.
- Keep belongings close to you. Most people only lose their shyness at Carnival, but there are the inevitable tales of pickpockets around. Distribute valuables, keep your bags close by and don’t walk around holding wads of money. Let common sense prevail but have fun!
- If you’re planning to bring the children, there is a fantastic family-friendly Children’s Parade on Sunday from 10am. There will be no shortage of things to see and experience, so the little ones are sure to have a great time too.
Best of all, it’s a fun and free event for all the family to enjoy! Enjoy a slice of Caribbean culture within one of the most breathtaking cities in the world. Stay safe, have fun and grab a Carnival Guide if you can – so you won’t miss the highlights!
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