Watch vibrant and elaborate floats and costumed performers make their way along the carnival route to the sound of steel bands and calypso music
The Notting Hill Carnival is Europe's biggest street festival. It takes place every August bank holiday weekend, when its colourful carnival parade brings the streets of West London alive.
More than 2 million people attended the carnival last year, dancing to the sounds of 50,000 performers – from reggae and dub to salsa – and more than 30 sound systems.
If you’ve never experienced the carnival before, it really is an unmissable celebration of London’s Caribbean communities, past and present. It’s also one of the world’s biggest parties.
Watch vibrant and elaborate floats and costumed performers make their way along the carnival route to the sound of steel bands and calypso music – while sampling some tempting Caribbean food from stalls along the route.
Where can you see it?
The carnival takes place on the streets of London W10 and W11, around Notting Hill, Ladbroke Grove, Westbourne Grove and Westbourne Park. The main parade begins on Great Western Road, moving its way along Chepstow Road, before leading on to Westbourne Grove. It then travels down Ladbroke Grove.
… and when?
Traditionally the carnival takes place each August bank holiday weekend – 24 to 26 August this year. Saturday is low key with a steel pan competition to launch the carnival weekend in Emslie Horniman’s Pleasance Park (Bosworth Road, W10) – this is a ticketed event.
It’s Sunday when the action begins - the event’s family day with kid-friendly floats and a fun vibe. Sunday is a quieter time to visit than Monday’s mega party and the best day if you have children in tow.
A bit of history
The first mention of a Caribbean celebration in London was in 1959 when a carnival was held at St Pancras Town Hall. The first Notting Hill Carnival, in 1966, was organised as an off-shoot of the Trinidad carnival and aimed at celebrating London’s Caribbean culture. From humble beginnings, with an audience of 500 people, the carnival has grown steadily to become one of the world’s biggest and most famous. It is now the second biggest event of its kind outside Rio de Janeiro!
What you need to know
If you're new to the carnival, its sheer scale can make it a bit daunting – here are five tips to help you get the most from the day:
1. Plan ahead
Plan your route before you set off – there will be road closures and travel disruption so avoid driving and if you’re travelling by public transport use Transport for London's Journey
Planner. If you’re meeting up with friends, it is best to do so before you reach the busy carnival streets.
2. Dress to impress
Go bright with your most colourful clothes and accessories and don’t forget the whistles, but stick to flat, comfortable closed-toe shoes.
3. Location, location
Capture the best of the festival for Instagram by nabbing yourself a good spot – so arrive early. Stop by the judges' platform for spectacular views or find a front row position in a quieter street - there’s always something to see.
4. Dance until you drop
Check out side streets for pop-up parties with static sound systems blasting out reggae, house, samba and more. Or, experience an amazing line-up of live acts from the music stages. Do your research online to pick the right events for you – and don’t miss the many after parties which carry on once the main event is finished.
5. Feast on Caribbean treats
Jerk chicken with rice is the dish of the day, but there’s plenty more besides, from goat curry and ackee and salt fish to vegetarian patties and corn on the cob. There are street food stalls around every corner, so don’t miss the chance to gorge on London’s finest Caribbean fare.
Finally, it’s a massive event so remember to stay safe and be alert at all times. Keep your valuables out of sight. Steer clear of congested streets, and if you have any concerns, you’re never far from a police officer.
Depending on the weather, don’t forget sun cream and a hat and water bottle. A hand sanitiser and toilet paper might come in handy too!
To find out more about the carnival and the weekend’s line-up, visit the Notting Hill Carnival
The Notting Hill Carnival is just one of the amazing, multicultural events that make West and Central London such a vibrant place to live. If you’re looking to buy or rent property, contact us
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