RAD’s Guide to London’s Notting Hill Festival

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Notting Hill Festival: One of the largest street parties in Europe

If you’re looking for an epic way to spend your Bank Holiday Weekend, then look no further. Notting Hill Carnival is taking over the streets of London on August 25 and 26 to celebrate the vibrancy and culture of the English capital.

“For over 50 years, Notting Hill Carnival has been uniting and empowering communities both locally and beyond”

Crowned The World’s Biggest Community-Led Carnival, the annual Notting Hill Festival features more than 100 live stage acts and over 300 food stalls. There are also a wide variety of Mas Bands, Brazilian Bands, Steelbands, Sound Systems and more. More than a million visitors are expected to attend the annual event.

Photo credit: Notting Hill Carnival

The carnival takes place over two days. Sunday is typically known as ‘Children’s Day’ or ‘Family Day’. Sunday is recommended for families, as there are significantly smaller crowds, as well as more kid-friendly floats, activities, and attractions.

The carnival kicks off at 6 am with a traditional carnival opening performance, followed by the main attraction; the parade. Following 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.

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.

Photo credit: Notting Hill Carnival

Notting Hill Festival Line up

This year’s Notting Hill Carnival lineup will welcome more than 100 live stage acts, as well as 66 Mas Bands, 36 Sound Systems, 14 Steelbands, and 6 Brazilian Bands. Performances will take place at a number of live stages, including the Horniman’s Stage, the Powis Square Stage, and the Meanwhile Gardens Stage. Both days will feature Sound Systems; such as Disco Hustlers, The Fun Bunch, Latin Rave Street Jam, Mastermind Roadshow, People’s Sound, Seduction City and many more.

On Sunday, the carnival will feature a wide range of Mas Bands for both children, as well as adults; whereas Monday’s schedule will feature a mainly adult lineup. The children’s Mas Bands include The Clement James Carnival Band, and Ebony, who will perform among many other talented Parade Bands; such as Glorious Backstage Arts, Hype Mas, People of Paradise and many more. Sunday will also feature a range of Dutty Mas and Fun Mas performances, such as D Riddim Tribe, Smokey Joe Roadshow, Tempo Mas and more.

Both days of the carnival will also feature six Brazilian bands; Kinetica Bloco, Tribo, Baque De Axé, Batala, London School of Samba and Paraiso School of Samba. You can also find a number of Steelbands, including CSI, London All Stars, Mangrove, Panectar, RASPO, UFO and more.

Photo credit: Notting Hill Carnival

Food Stalls Galore

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’. This year’s stalls also feature a significant rise in vegan food traders. There are also vegetarian options available at just about every stall. With something on offer for everyone, you can enjoy an all-time favorite or discover an entirely new world of Caribbean delights!

Photo credit: Notting Hill Carnival

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! There are so many ways you can get involved with the carnival; from creating costumes to joining a mas band and more. Here are some ways you can get involved in Carnival.

Become a Steward

Notting Hill Carnival prioritizes involving and benefiting the local community as much as possible and one of the easiest ways you can take part is to help improve the overall Carnival experience by becoming a steward. You can sign up to 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.

Play Steelpan for a Band

Whether you know your tenors like the back of your hand or have never touched a steelpan in your life, there’s a class for everyone! Regular free classes run at the Tabernacle in Notting Hill, as well as the Yaa Centre in Maida Vale. Once you master the art of the steelpan, you might even find yourself competing internationally at the renowned steelpan competition ‘Panorama’!

Make Carnival Costumes

If music isn’t quite up your alley, perhaps you can find your creativity creating carnival costumes. You can find many ‘mas camps’ located throughout Notting Hill and surrounding areas; where mas bands are always seeking new helpers to create the bright and colorful costumes you see throughout the parade.

Photo credit: Notting Hill Carnival

Featured image credit: Notting Hill Carnival

Accommodation near Notting Hill, UK

Rad Season is providing you with hotels and Airbnbs at the lowest prices available online. Book your stay near Notting Hill, UK using the map below!

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Katarina Cvetko

Katarina is an international journalist and photographer from Sydney, Australia with a strong passion for music festivals. Since her first solo adventure in 2015, Katarina has travelled to over 30 countries in 5 continents and has attended over 100 music festivals worldwide. After conquering a bucket list journey of 52 music festivals in 52 weeks in 2018, Katarina continues to live a digital nomad lifestyle, travelling to festivals in a different country every week and sharing her experiences on social media.

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