Every year on the last weekend of August the streets of west London come alive with a huge Caribbean party at Europe’s biggest street festival – Notting Hill Carnival.
It was first held in 1966 as an offshoot of the Trinidad Carnival, celebrating Caribbean culture and traditions in London. Around 500 people attended the first festival. Since then it has become the largest street festival in Europe, attracting hundreds of thousands of people to London.
With nearly 40 sound systems, a colourful parade and plenty of exotic food it’s a favourite weekend for many Londoners.
So if you’re planning on attending this year, here’s what you need to keep in mind to have a great time:
1. Bring your own drinks. You guessed it, drinks at Carnival are overpriced. Instead of paying £7 for plastic cup of lukewarm rum and coke, stop by your local shop before the festival and stock up on a few cold drinks.
2. Wear appropriate shoes. The Carnival spreads throughout Notting Hill which means a lot of walking and a lot of dancing. Don’t wear sandals or heels – you will regret it. With drinks flowing and music popping, there won’t be any time for that kind of whining.
3. Meet your friends before you head to the festival. Phone reception at Carnival is basically nonexistent. Trying to meet up with someone when you get is almost impossible.
4. Avoid burning out at Carnival by giving yourself time to rest as often as possible. Take a seat wherever you can, and drink plenty of water, too.
5. Bringing kids? Come on Sunday, it’s Family Day – a calmer start before the full party begins on the bank holiday Monday. Family Day is traditionally less busy than Monday, but there’s still plenty going on. The Children’s Parade will run all day, complete with bright costumes and music that demands dancing. There will also be a host of family-friendly activities and events throughout.Keep in mind that just though Sunday is slightly quieter, there will still be alcohol, crowds, loud music and long queues.
Take a look at this years programme to see what’s on each day.
Notting Hill Carnival 2018 programme
Panorama – Saturday 25 August
The festival kicks off on Saturday evening with a steel band music competition, Caribbean-themed outdoor entertainment and street food during Panorama. Entry is free and the event takes place between 6pm and 10pm at Emslie Horniman’s Pleasance Park (Bosworth Road W10).
Sunday 26 August – J’Ouvert and Children’s Day
Get up early on the Sunday morning to experience the traditional Caribbean carnival opening J’Ouvert. Join the parade or watch on as revellers march through the streets covered in mud and colourful paint between 6am and 9am. The procession starts and ends at Canal Way (Ladbroke Grove W10).
Children’s Day (Sunday Parade) takes over during the day and evening. See young performers dancing and swirling through the streets to show off their elaborate costumes in the Children’s Day Parade; hear live music at dedicated stages in Emslie Horniman’s Pleasance park and Powis Square, and make sure to enjoy the 38 static sound systems, delicious food stalls and family activities.
Monday 27 August – Grand Finale
See colourful dancers, performers, steel bands and mobile sound systems fill the streets of Notting Hill for the Grand Finale (Monday Parade). Plus, tuck into delicious treats from the many food stalls in the area, and enjoy even more entertainment at the 38 static sound systems along the route and live stages in Emslie Horniman’s Pleasance park and Powis Square.