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Notting Hill Carnival: The Complete Guide

Notting Hill Carnival: The Complete Guide

The Complete Guide to Notting Hill Carnival in London

Notting Hill Carnival is an extraordinary event in London, filled with vibrant colours, lively music, and a festive atmosphere. If you’re a first-timer, it can be overwhelming, but fear not! This guide will help you navigate the excitement of Notting Hill Carnival.

The Festivities of Notting Hill Carnival

What is Notting Hill Carnival?

Notting Hill Carnival is London’s annual celebration of Caribbean culture, drawing millions of attendees each year. It is renowned as one of the world’s largest street parties, second only to Rio de Janeiro’s carnival.

Since its inception in 1966, the carnival has been a showcase of vibrant music, elaborate costumes, delicious street food, and parades that exude fun and excitement.

Every year, an estimated 15,000 costumes bedazzled with 30 million sequins, 15,000 feathers, and 30 litres of body paint are displayed at the carnival.

Where is Notting Hill Carnival?

Notting Hill Carnival takes place in the namesake neighbourhood but extends to Ladbroke Grove, Westbourne Park, and Westbourne Grove. Most streets in the area are closed to vehicles, allowing for a pedestrian-friendly atmosphere.

Follow the sounds of music, the crowds, and the aroma of jerk chicken to find your way to the heart of the carnival. Alternatively, refer to the map for navigation.

When is Notting Carnival Held?

Notting Hill Carnival spans across Sunday and Monday of the August bank holiday weekend, typically falling around the 25-27th of August. Sunday is designated as Children’s Day, with a focus on family-friendly activities and a dedicated children’s parade.

Monday’s parade showcases the most splendid and colourful costumes, with 60 bands participating in the procession.

The Best Carnival Experiences

Join the parade

Jump into the parade and immerse yourself in the infectious energy as it winds through the streets. Dance, sing, and be part of the celebration!

Watch the parade

If dancing isn’t your forte, spectate from the sidelines and marvel at the spectacular costumes that pass by.

Eat jerk chicken

Indulge in the culinary delights of the Caribbean at one of the 300 food stalls, with jerk chicken being a must-try dish at the carnival.

Drink fresh coconut water

Quench your thirst with refreshing coconut water straight from the source.

Party at a sound stage

Explore the 40 static stages and 70 performing stages scattered throughout Notting Hill to find your groove with music ranging from reggae to jazz.

Refer to the map to locate the various sound stages.

Find the after party

Extend the festivities by joining one of the many after-parties hosted at pubs and private residences once the main parade concludes.

Essential Carnival Tips

Timely Arrival

The parades kick off between 9 and 10am, continuing until around 8.30pm. Arrive early to enjoy the carnival atmosphere and consider leaving before nightfall to avoid potential disruptions.

Appropriate Attire

Opt for comfortable footwear, as you’ll be on your feet all day. Shorts, trainers, and a glittery top are ideal choices, ensuring you’re both festive and practical.

What to Bring to the Carnival


Carry cash for food and drink purchases, as most vendors do not accept cards. Additionally, having cash on hand can save you from long queues for facilities or opt for makeshift toilet rentals.

Hand sanitiser

Maintain hygiene by bringing hand sanitiser to keep your hands clean amidst the festivities.

Ear plugs

Protect your ears from the loud music by carrying ear plugs, especially if you have sensitive hearing or are attending with children.

Getting to Notting Hill Carnival

Prepare for potential transportation challenges as stations may be overcrowded or closed. Consider walking to less crowded stations like Kensington or Shepherd’s Bush to access the carnival with ease.

Cost of Notting Hill Carnival

Entry to the carnival is free, but budget for food and drinks to enhance your experience. Bringing your own refreshments or purchasing from nearby shops can help you save on costs.

Plan for a budget of approximately £50 for food and drinks, though actual expenses may vary.

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