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Five ways to get in the mood for Notting Hill Carnival

Annie McMonagle-Wilmot

It's just a few days until the colours and sounds of Carnival take over Notting Hill, where over 60 bands and performers will hit the streets to celebrate. If you want to immerse yourself in all things Afro-Caribbean this bank holiday weekend, here are five ways to get in the Carnival spirit.  


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Have a trawl at People's Sound Records

Head to this legendary Jamaican music store that takes pride of place on the famous All Saints Road in Notting Hill. With a huge collection of vinyl and CDs from all over the world, owner Daddy VGO also hosts a sound stage every year at Carnival right opposite his shop. Bob Marley's former home and recording studio (the former Island Records site) is also just a stone's throw away on Basing Street.  

Cottons Rhum Shack
Cottons Rhum Shack, Boxpark, Shoreditch

Order some rum at Cottons

This Caribbean/Creole restaurant now has venues in Camden, Shoreditch and Notting Hill. Head here to get Carnival-ready as you fuel up on some rum, jerk chicken or oxtail stew with rice and peas. The original Cottons in Camden also claims to have the largest collection of rum in the UK, with over 300 varieties stocked behind the bar.  

Jemma Watts

 Hang out at Rum Kitchen 

The Rum Kitchen does a mean jerk chicken that rivals any of London's Caribbean hotspots and their Brixton restaurant now hosts resident DJs every Thursday to Saturday. Plus, they do a weekend bottomless brunches which wouldn't be the worst way to kick off your Carnival weekend. Visit them at either their Brixton or Carnaby sites (the Notting Hill venue is closed for refurbishment but will be open in September).    

Take a Carnival-themed dance class 

This coming Saturday you can learn moves to rival the Carnival dancers by taking the Summer Carnival Extravaganza class at Seen on Screen Fitness. Featuring music by reggae and dancehall favourites such as Sean Paul, you'll be taught by dancers who trained everyone from Beyoncé to Britney Spears, giving you the very best dancehall moves to bring to the party. 


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Get the jerk at Negril

Head to Negril in Brixton, a tiny authentic and laid-back Jamaican café where you can scoff ackee with saltfish and fried plantain and goat curry, all washed down with their killer rum punch. 

Check out our guide to the best jerk chicken in London

Or, take a look at our  Notting Hill Carnival guide

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