The Notting Hill Carnival takes place every year over the weekend of the August bank holiday. The carnival started in 1964 and is one of the most well-known events of the British Calendar. In fact, it is so well loved that in 2006 it was voted into the list of icons of England by the UK public and won the GoBritain ‘Best Festival’ award in 2015, too.
The Carnival began as a way for Afro-Caribbean communities to celebrate their culture and traditions and it continues as a magnificent display of sound, beautiful costumes and community spirit. People are drawn together to celebrate the Carnival, and visitors attend locally and from across the country. Every year, around one million people watch the procession as it moves through the streets of Notting Hill, Ladbroke Grove, and Westbourne Park.
This year the Carnival Bands will be swinging into action by 9am on both Sunday 28th August and Monday 29th August 2016 and they will complete the procession by early evening. Whether you come for the music, food, companionship or just to enjoy an exciting day out, there is something for everyone.
The central feature of the Notting Hill Carnival is the music, and whether you want something up to date or more traditional, you are in the right place. Steel bands have always featured prominently and Soca and Calypso music are what most people think of when they picture the event. However, static sound systems have made an appearance over the last few years, playing an array of Funk, House, Dub, R&B, Reggae and much more.
In previous years, well-known international artists have appeared on the festival’s live stage including Jamiroquai, Courtney Pine, Eddie Grant and Wyclef Jean. This year, you can listen to a wide variety of music and a few of the bands in attendance will be the Bajan Revellers, Masquerade 2000, South Connections and Lagniappe.
On Sunday, it is also Children’s Day and kids and adults alike will love this swirling display of extravagant costumes. The participants travel the carnival route accompanied by steel bands and a multitude of sound systems.
As well as the sights and sounds of the Carnival you will also be met by the mouth- watering aromas of traditional Caribbean food. Jerk chicken, patties, curries, and plantain are all available for you to saviour and you might want to accompany them with a rum punch or two. There are food outlets on virtually every corner so you will never go hungry along the route.
The event is best avoided by road and the easiest way to get there is by network rail for those attending from outside the city, and the Underground for those within. Many people walk to the parade route from any of the nearby tube stations such as Holland Park, High Street Kensington, Shepherd’s Bush or Paddington and this is all part of the fun and excitement of the day.
If you want to see the Carnival as few other people have done before and get a true scale of the size of the event, why not charter a helicopter and view the sights of London from the air before heading to the event. This would make for a truly memorable day and is a great way to celebrate with family and friends.
- The carnival is free to attend although some after-event parties at clubs and bars will charge a fee and get pre-booked quickly, so it’s best to research what’s going on, and where, before you attend.
- Take cash with you as local ATM’s run out fairly early as they are in such high demand.
- Wear comfortable closed-in shoes, dress in layers and take something waterproof if the weather forecast calls for it.
- The Carnival gets very crowded but there is space away from the central streets if you need a rest.
- Don’t be put off by scare stories about crime but do take sensible precautions. Crime is relatively rare, and the event is well policed, however, opportunistic crime can happen at any busy event. So stay in groups, and don’t flash valuables such as wallets, phones or cameras.
The Notting Hill Carnival is an event not to be missed and if you have never attended before you are in for a treat. It’s one of the last big events of the summer so head along and celebrate at the largest street festival in the UK before Autumn rolls in.