It might be more than 50 years old, but Notting Hill Carnival is never the same twice. Whether it’s your first time or you’re a seasoned veteran, here’s what’s different this year
1. Carnival's going 'Green for Grenfell'
Celebrations will come to a halt for one minute’s silence at 3pm on both Sunday and Monday in memory of the 80 people who died in the blaze at Grenfell Tower in June. Community group Grenfell Support is organising a ‘quiet zone’ around the junction of Lancaster Road and Ladbroke Grove, where Carnival floats will switch off their music as they pass the tower. The group is also asking attendees to wear green clothing in solidarity and empathy with the Grenfell victims.
2. It’s all change on All Saints Road
All Saints Road has always been a pivotal Carnival location, but things will be slightly different this year. To avoid overcrowding, there will only be two soundsystems (Rapattack and People’s Sound System), rather than four, as in previous years. CMC Matrix, known for pumping out drum and bass, won’t be appearing this year and Notting Hill Carnival institution Mangrove/Volcano Sound are relocating to Portobello Road. Sadly, Norman Jay MBE’s Good Times posse aren’t taking part this year (though thankfully, he’s going to be hosting a Hackney afterparty instead).
3. Fela Kuti is being commemorated with his own float
The late Nigerian musician, afrobeat legend and all-round funk dynamo Fela Kuti will be honoured with his very own ‘Felabration’ float. The choreography will be led by Yeni Kuti, his oldest daughter.
4. Red Bull is back in town
After a two-year hiatus, Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA) is pulling out all the stops for an epic Carnival weekend. Get your groove on to their soundsystem – which is open to all for the first time – at Emslie Horniman’s Pleasance park on Sunday. The line-up includes Jamaican dancehall star Spice, British rapper Stefflon Don and Mixpak boss Dre Skull, as well as a surprise special guest. Don’t miss Monday’s procession, when the Red Bull float will take to the streets blaring Trinidadian soca alongside Mangrove, the legendary steel band whose history with Notting Hill Carnival goes back more than 30 years.
5. There are more loos
Carnival is awesome, but the hellish task of finding a toilet when you’re bursting for a wee? Not so much. Unless you want to pay a fiver to, er, spend a penny in someone’s house, the likelihood is you’ll be joining the queues. Luckily this year there are more portaloos and they’re more evenly distributed. Check out our map (and maybe go easy on the Red Stripe) so you’re not caught short.
Make sure you’re clued up with our ultimate guide at to Notting Hill Carnival.
Want more Carnival fun? Head to one of these warm-up and afterparties.