It’s party time! Nothing says fun like a colourful carnival and the UK is lucky enough to host a flotilla full. Brightly-coloured costumes, uplifting beats and sizzling street food are definitely worth going on holiday for, so we’ve rounded up some of the best UK carnivals where you can forget your troubles and shake it like a polaroid picture.
Best Carnivals In The UK: Where To Stay
Some of these amazing carnivals last longer than a day, so booking a holiday rental nearby means you won’t miss a minute of the fun. Get a gang together and book a spacious townhouse where you can be at the centre of the action. Or book a family-friendly apartment on the outskirts to get the best of both worlds. Whatever type of rental you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it on Holiday Lettings.
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Notting Hill Carnival | London
When: 26 – 27 August
Close to one million people attend this two-day celebration of Caribbean heritage, making Notting Hill Carnival one of the biggest in the world! Don your most colourful outfit and dance the day away to Caribbean music including traditional reggae, calypso and rumba. When you’ve worked up an appetite, tuck into some mouth-watering jerk chicken or maybe try some traditional goat stew. To make the most of this vibrant and exciting event, book a rental nearby so you can shake your tailfeathers until the small hours!
Aldeburgh Carnival | Suffolk
When: 18-20 August
This annual festival has recently won the top award for the best Family Tourism Event in Norfolk & Suffolk! Now in its 76th year, the carnival features attractions ranging from traditional donkey rides and Punch & Judy shows, to live music and a 10km fun-run. There’ll be a lifeboat launch, helicopter assisted air-sea rescue demonstration and much more besides. The carnival climaxes with the Grand Procession of costumes and floats headed by a top class military band, and the Carnival Queen. Evening displays begin in the High St Arena, before the band leads the emotive children’s lantern procession to some very special fireworks.
Ryde Carnival | Isle of Wight
When: 29 August – 1 September
Ryde holds three vibrant and colourful summer carnivals during the last week of August that mix the traditional carnival queens and marching bands with groups inspired by the spectacular and articulated costumes of Rio. There’ll be fancy dress parades and live music creating an amazing party atmosphere! The highlight is the dazzling light show of the Illuminated procession on the Saturday night, as hundreds of performers dance through the streets of this seaside town in front of the friendly crowds of all ages who come out to celebrate the biggest street festival on the island.
Bridgwater Carnival | Somerset
When: 3 November
Bridgwater Carnival is the largest illuminated carnival in Europe and the oldest in the UK. Around 50 spectacular carnival floats take part in the parade, some as big as 100 ft in length and lit by over 25,000 lights! They are joined by marching bands, walking groups and individuals who entertain an audience of over 150,000 for over three hours. During the day, live music and street theatre set the scene for the evening’s amazing parade which culminates in the unique ‘squibbing’ (the simultaneous firing of fireworks) display. Pick a place nearby so you can make a holiday of this exciting event.
Wells Carnival | Norfolk
When: 27 July – 5 August
This fantastic not-for-profit event is run by a group of volunteers, and has been taking place annually for over 100 years. Getting bigger and better every summer, the carnival now comprises 100 events over the 10 days. There’ll be a huge range of entertainment on offer for all ages, including a teddy-bears picnic, raft race, a fun-run, and painting and sandcastle competitions. Plus, there are history walks, workshops, live music and the popular ‘Screen-on-the-Green’. The carnival culminates with fancy dress competitions, a parade and a spectacular evening music event. So, pack your best carnival outfit and book a holiday in Wells.
Kendal Torchlight Carnival | Cumbria
When: 14 – 15 September
Each year, the streets of Kendal’s town centre are closed so that a colourful and energetic carnival procession can travel around a circular loop. The event has been a huge annual attraction for many years, and this year sees the 49th event. Kendalians and visitors alike line the streets to watch the procession of decorated floats, dancing troupes and marching musicians, made up of professional performers, local businesses, schools, organisations and clubs. The following day, a street party is held in the town centre, with stalls, activities, games, and an event stage and performers.
Cowley Road Carnival | Oxford
When: 1 July
The UK’s second largest carnival is a huge celebration where the entire Oxford community comes together in all its multicultural glory. Over 50,000 people of all ages, backgrounds and ethnicities meet on the Cowley Road for a day of music, dance, art, street performance, events and activities. At the heart of the festivities, hundreds of people join the spectacular, half-a-mile- long procession in their schools and community groups. Quite simply it is Oxford’s best, biggest, and most colourful, day out.
Sheffield Carnival | South Yorkshire
When: 23 June
Sheffield hadn’t had a carnival in over 20 years but the event made a grand come-back in flamboyant style in June 2018 with the “Rise of the Phoenix” theme. Sheffield Carnival is a free, family-friendly, multicultural event that attracts people of all ages. It not only includes a fantastic costume parade, but also hosts activities for the whole family to enjoy, from the main stage showcasing local talent to an arts and crafts tent for the younger ones. Plus, there are free workshops to get involved in where you can learn new skills including saree draping and drumming.
Weston Carnival | Weston-super-Mare
When: 9 November
Weston Carnival has been entertaining spectators for nearly 50 years, and it’s a wonderful celebration of music, movement and light. The carnival ‘carts’ number over 50, most are 30 metres long, four metres wide and five metres high, and are powered by huge generators which light upwards of 20,000 bulbs! The event is free and there’ll be official collection buckets so you can make a donation to one of the worthy participating charities. So, if you’re looking for a family-friendly carnival this year that’s sure to light up your November, book a rental near the sea in Weston-super-Mare.
Sheringham Carnival | Norfolk
When: 28 July – 5 August
This fun-packed, family-friendly carnival is spread over nine days and celebrates the best of the traditional seaside town of Sheringham. Kicking things off on the Saturday, over 400 Harley Davidsons rev up to get the party started! There’ll be an air display, the coronation of the Carnival Queen, a parade, fun on the beach and the carnival’s legendary street races. Other activities include games and competitions, stalls, arts and crafts, raffles, bingo, quizzes and music. The carnival closes with a procession through the town leading to the wonderful firework display over the sea.
Preston Caribbean Carnival | Lancashire
When: 10 June
This family-friendly event includes colourful and vibrant large-piece costumes, dancers and musicians. Watch the procession through the streets before enjoying some live performances on the main stage at Moor Park. Thousands of visitors turn out to see hundreds of participants in costume, dancing behind decorated trucks with steelband, salsa and samba performers. The park has plenty of children’s activities, including rides, inflatables, music and dance, along with food and non-food stalls. The event is predominantly Caribbean themed, so expect soca, calypso and reggae music, and traditional jerk chicken with rice and peas.
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