Notting Hill Carnival

 

Notting Hill Carnival

Notting Hill Carnival

Notting Hill Carnival

August Bank Holiday (the last weekend in August)

On every August bank holiday since 1966, the streets of Notting Hill have come alive with music and dancing, in one of London’s most exciting events. Notting Hill Carnival is Europe’s biggest street festival, and is second only to Rio de Janiero worldwide.

The festival started out in 1964 as a way for African Caribbean communities to celebrate their culture and traditions. It has since grown to 20 miles of costumes, sound systems and stalls, and over a million revellers from all over the world come each year to join the celebrations.

Celebrations are kicked off on Saturday with the steel drum competition. Music is at the heart of the festival, and it echoes to the sound of the parading Mas (masquerade) bands playing steel drums, calypso and samba, and over 40 sound systems playing reggae, hip hop, Latin jazz and more. There are also live stages, which in the past have featured international acts such as Burning Spear, Eddie Grant, Wyclef Jean and Jamiroquai.

Sunday is generally quieter and is a great day for kids to dress up - prizes are awarded for the best costumes. Along with the sights and the sounds of the carnival come the wonderful smells of traditional Caribbean food. Make sure you try out the jerk chicken, rice and peas, patties and curries from some of the many street stalls that line the carnival.

You’ll see the most brilliant and exotic costumes on Bank Holiday Monday when the main parade happens. Mas is at the heart of carnival culture, and the parading groups and floats come from all over the world. Many will have spent months designing and perfecting their sensational costumes.

If you want to join in you can follow them as they make their way from Great Western Road to Ladbroke Grove. You might even find yourself celebrating well into the evening at one of the many after parties.

The carnival can get very noisy and crowded, and is not suitable for small children. Much of the rest of the area shuts down while the carnival is on, so if you want to visit Notting Hill for any other reason it’s best to wait until after the celebrations have finished. For more details please see the Notting Hill Carnival website.