If you're heading to Notting Hill Carnival this year, be sure to check out our Notting Hill Carnival information guide. Crammed with everything you need to know about the floats, trucks and soundsystems and advice on how to stay safe over the weekend, plus details on entertaining the kids at the event, our info guide is must-read before attending Carnival 2015.
RECOMMENDED: Read the full Notting Hill Carnival guide
The parade begins at 10am on both Sunday and Monday, and judging finishes at 6.30pm; floats, trucks and parade bands have to clear the streets by 8.30pm. Soundsystems play on both Sunday and Monday, with a strict noise curfew at 7pm. The main parade starts on Great Western Road, winding its way along Chepstow Road, then on to Westbourne Grove, and then down Ladbroke Grove.
Everything you need to know
When is Notting Hill Carnival 2015?
Sunday August 30 and Monday August 31.
Where does it take place?
On the streets of W10, west London.
What happens there?
Cool stuff! There’s live music from traditional Caribbean bands, DJs, colourful street parades, dancing, costumes, food and drink, afterparties and more.
What’s the music like?
A patchwork of Caribbean-influenced sounds: reggae, dub, dancehall, soca and calypso. Plus house, funk, drum ’n’ bass, jungle, dubstep, ska, breaks and more. All blasting from 38 dedicated soundsystems. Oh, and there are steel bands and live bands too.
Do I have to pay?
Nope. Notting Hill Carnival is completely free, but most afterparties and warm-ups at bars and clubs do charge.
Will the tube be running and what station do I go to?
Notting Hill Gate will be exit-only between 11am and 7pm on Sunday and Monday. There will be no interchange between the District, Circle and Central lines between 11am and 7pm on Sunday or anytime on Monday. Ladbroke Grove will be closed on Sunday and Monday. Latimer Road closes at 11.30pm on Sunday and Monday. Royal Oak and Westbourne Park will be exit-only between 11am and 6pm, and closed from 11.30pm on Sunday and Monday. Bayswater and Paddington will be operating normally.
Stations may temporarily have to shut due to overcrowding, so be patient if you’re waiting to get on the tube or Overground. Other nearby stations are High Street Kensington, Holland Park, Queen’s Park, Kensal Rise, Kensal Green and Shepherd’s Bush. For those making the trip from east London, there will be no Overground service between Hackney Wick and Stratford on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
How about the bus?
While extra services will be in operation, no buses will enter the Carnival area from first thing Sunday morning until the first service on Tuesday morning. On both Sunday and Monday, bus services begin from Notting Hill Gate in the south and from the Prince of Wales on Harrow Road (close to Elgin Avenue) in the north. Night buses in the area will also be subject to diversions.
Can I ride my bike?
Some local docking stations will be suspended or removed for Carnival, so don’t rely on space to dock your Boris bike.
What happens on the Sunday?
Sunday (Aug 30) is ‘Family Day’ – a more relaxed start before the hard-partying main parade on Monday. Between 6 and 9am, early visitors to Ladbroke Grove can catch the Jouvert procession, a traditional Caribbean event where revellers throw colourful powder paint at each other to a steel band soundtrack. Between 10am and 8.30pm, there’s a colourful parade for children and eclectic sounds from the World Music Stage.
What happens on Monday?
Monday (Aug 31, 10am to 8.30pm) is the big one. The main parade (or Grand Finale) sees more than 60 bands, 38 soundsystems and countless dancers on floats parade very slowly around W10. Check our route map for more information. There’s also plenty of other music and partying happening in nearby streets, bars, pubs and clubs.
What can I eat there?
As you’d expect, many food stalls sell traditional Caribbean food. But there are other options, including BBQ and veggie food, if jerk chicken and curry goat aint your thing.
How much money should I bring?
Enough for the whole day. Local cash machines tend to run out of dosh very quickly.
Should I take my children?
Lots of people do take their children, but remember that it can be very hard work. Weigh it up first and if you are certain you want to take the kids, make sure you go prepared. Here’s a quick checklist:
- Go on Family Day, Sunday August 30. It’s still busy, and noisy of course, but it’s much more kid-friendly than the main parade on Monday.
- Arrive early. You’ll beat the crowds and can get a good, comfortable spot.
- Bring ear defenders for the children.
- Plan your travel route beforehand and check which tube stations are closed – see above for travel info.
- Bring travel potties for very young children, as portable toilets at Carnival will have long queues.
- Bring some easily transportable food and water for them in case you can’t buy anything suitable.
- Write your mobile number on your child’s arm, so they can contact you if you get separated.
- Don’t buy them a vuvuzela unless you want a perforated ear drum!
Is it dangerous?
Don’t be put off by the scare stories. Carnival is well policed and the crime rate is generally very low. As long as you take basic precautions – leave valuables at home; don’t flash phones, cameras or expensive gadgets around; stay with friends – then the whole thing will be a blast.
Doesn’t it get really crowded?
Yep. It can get very crowded, very quickly. But there’s space away from the main action if you're feeling claustrophobic. Plan your route with our Carnival google map and remember the earlier you arrive, the less crowded it will be.
Will I be able to get phone signal?
Probably not. It’s a large festival and that means spotty phone coverage. So make sure to agree on a meeting point with your friends.
What do I wear to Carnival?
Something fabulous and something waterproof. Wear comfy shoes and give flip-flops and open-toed footwear a miss, unless you want your feet to get crushed by the galumphing masses. Set off with more than a muscle tee if you’re out for the duration. For Carnival outfits and insipration, check out our what to wear to Carnival style guide.
Can I still party once Carnival is finished?
There are loads of great after parties on Sunday and Monday, plus warm-up parties on the Saturday. Take a look at our list of Notting Hill Carnival warm-up and afterparties.