Notting Hill Carnival: The Ultimate Caribbean Inspired Street Festival Notting Hill Carnival is considered one of the best festivals worldwide in August. To celebrate the beautiful Caribbean communities of London, every year a vibrant carnival takes place bringing everyone together for a dance, live music, and a taste of the tropics. The Notting Hill Carnival […]Notting Hill Carnival 2020 Notting Hill, London W11 2PA, UK London United Kingdom
Notting Hill Carnival is considered one of the best festivals worldwide in August. To celebrate the beautiful Caribbean communities of London, every year a vibrant carnival takes place bringing everyone together for a dance, live music, and a taste of the tropics. The Notting Hill Carnival has been an annual event since 1966 and continues to thrive each year. Last year the carnival saw over 1 million visitors sprawling the streets of London, making it the biggest street party in the UK.
The carnival travels around the area of west London with fluorescent dancers, masquerades, live music, and artistic floats. Exotic aromas waft through the air from the Caribbean street-food stalls with an array of spreads to tease the taste buds. The carnival officially starts on a Saturday evening where a tropical steel band music competition will take place. Sunday is known as children’s day, although children are welcome throughout the festival, Sunday is particularly catered for children’s entertainment.
‘Exotic food, non-stop dancing, and a celebration of culture’
During the day there will be family entertainment to get everybody involved, young and very sparkly performers showcasing their talents through the parade, and even more live music and zingy Caribbean food. The festival comes to a close on Monday but not without a lively and very colourful finale.
There will be more exotic treats, hundreds more performers and a final round of fantastic steel drum bands. The carnival will see around 50,000 performers on more than 100 live stages, 38 static sound systems and over 300 food stalls. There are also a wide variety of Mas Bands, Brazilian Bands, Steelbands, Sound Systems and others. Even though more than a million people attend the annual event Notting Hill Carnival remains a beautifully lively family event.
Make sure to get to Notting Hill early to grab a good spot. The underground stations and entrances get very busy later on. The best views are actually near the judges’ platform. The parade route starts on Great Western Road and finishes on Ladbroke Grove.
The floats are not everything and you can get a much more casual vibe just on the roads. There are small individual parties anywhere from Notting Hill, Ladbroke Grove and Westbourne Park.
England’s weather can be unpredictable, even in August. Prepare yourself for a sunny morning or a rainy day. Wear comfortable shoes for walking through the crowds, the Carnival area is quite large. Most visitors are wearing Caribbean costumes, for the best experience wear something summery and colorful.
Pack your sunglasses and some sunscreen as well as a water bottle to stay hydrated during the day. There have been reports of pickpockets at the event so leave any valuables at home. Many people only take a waterproof case with just some money, train tickets, phone and keys. An extendable selfie stick can be handy if you want to take photos of the parade but aren’t in the front row.
Entrance for the Notting Hill Carnival is free for everyone.
The carnival weekend takes place over two days. There is a UK National Panorama Steelband Competition on Saturday evening but the Carribean carnival officially starts on Sunday.
Sunday is typically known as ‘Children’s Day’ or ‘Family Day’. It is recommended for families, as there are significantly smaller crowds, as well as more kid-friendly floats, activities, and attractions. The event kicks off at 10 am with a traditional carnival opening performance, followed by the main attraction; the parade. After the main parade, you can catch the Children’s Parade, which continues into the night and showcases children dancing and performing in vibrant clothing and costumes.
Bank Holiday Monday will close out the event with a spectacular grand finale made up of street performances, dancers, live music and the Notting Hill Grand Finale Parade.
Wear comfortable shoes and take some water: There will be a lot of walking through the crowds at the Carnival so we recommend flat and comfortable shoes. With the event running throughout the day, it’s a good idea to bring water to avoid dehydration.
Eat traditional Caribbean food: Offering traditional food from around the world, you can expect to find over 300 food stalls at Notting Hill Carnival. Typically emphasized on traditional Caribbean foods, you can expect to find everything from the famous ‘Jamaican Jerk chicken’ to Trinidadian ‘Roti’ and of course, the Guyanese ‘Pepper Pot’. The stalls also feature a significant rise in vegan and vegetarian food traders.
Get involved: For locals and visitors alike, Notting Hill Festival is more than just a huge party. The community-led carnival resembles one large community project, where anyone and everyone can get involved! Become a ‘Community Steward’ and provide the highest level of caring crowd control, or volunteer as a ‘Mas Band Steward’ and assist in stewarding the official floats.
Notting Hill Carnival has been running for more than 50 years. In the sixties several indoor events took place all over London. 1966 Rhaune Laslett organised the first outdoor festival on the streets in Notting Hill, an event for local children.
When the band walked down Portobello Road locals came out of their houses and danced on the streets to the music of the steel band. The Carribean carnival has been a great success ever since. It remains diverse and has seen famous bands as well as new and upcoming talents out of the local communities.
London sees millions of tourists each year and is very well prepared for it. The capital has a sea of museums and tourist attractions from Buckingham Palace to the National History Museum, there’s never a dull moment in London. Head to one of the many restaurants to enjoy a 5-star meal or go to Piccadilly Circus for a range of evening entertainment including casinos, bars and nightclubs.
London offers one of the best shopping experiences in the UK with all the high street favourites providing a larger range than any other city. If you are in true tourism mode, ride the London Eye for a stunning view of the river Thames and London from up high, take a boat along the river or take a sightseeing tour.
London is one of the best places on earth for food. That does not only apply to some of the local delicacies like fish & chips, pies or bangers and mash but also international food. With so many different cultures living in London, you can taste some of the best Indian curries in Brick Lane, cheap Chinese food in Chinatown, explore gourmet meals at Michelin starred restaurants everywhere and taste more Caribbean food in Brixton.
The carnival travels through the streets of W10 and W11 consisting of Notting Hill, Westbourne Grove, Westbourne Park, Ladbroke Grove, and Kensal Road. As the parades move through the streets there will be a lot of road closures both during the carnival and the run-up to it.
The easiest form of transportation will be public transport, there will be additional buses available throughout the duration of the carnival with several tube stations within walking distance although the timetables may be slightly disrupted. Exact travel schedules will be announced closer to the time.
The UK’s capital has plenty to offer in the way of accommodation. From 5-star hotels and travel lodges to budget B&Bs, you will surely find something suitable. There are several areas that make up London some being more expensive than others, but during any large festival, prices may increase, especially in Notting Hill.
The Distillery is a hotel that is close to the action, at about 300m from Portobello Road. If you rather cater for yourself, Portobello Boutique Apartments offer spacious flats with a kitchen and seating area. It is a great place to chill before heading out to the action.
For cheaper options, London is full of hostels and self-catered apartments in the city center and on the outskirts. The city itself is efficiently accessible and you are never far from a tube station. The map here shows the best hotel deals and Airbnb’s in Notting Hill and across London.
Travelers can easily arrive at Notting Hill by public transport. The City of London will offer additional buses throughout the whole carnival. There are several underground stations within walking distance but check the timetables and extra announcements closer to the bank holiday weekend. Usually a few stations are exit only and platforms get very busy so it is hard to get on the train.
Notting Hill Carnival is one of Europe’s largest street festivals. Are you looking for carnivals that are lesser-known? Read more about Duesseldorf Carnival, Cologne’s rival and Trinidad’s Carnival that’s in a much warmer climate.
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