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Dancing, music and masquerade – make the most of the Notting Hill Carnival with our full guide to all the info, dates, timings details and tips.
For a lot of Londoners, Notting Hill Carnival flashes by in a blaze of feathers, Red Stripe and tinnitus. To those who make it happen, it is a year-round operation, which is why its IRL return in 2022 after two years of being a solely virtual event is very welcome news indeed – especially for the communities who make it happen.
This Carnival weekend, it's expected that more than two million people will flock to west London for the city's biggest street party yet. Read on to know more about the historical Caribbean celebration, how to get there and what's going down this year.
Carnival, more fondly known by Londoners as Carni, is one of the biggest and oldest street parties in the world. Started by London’s West Indian communities in 1966, Carnival is a celebration of freedom and Caribbean culture, with an iconic parade showcasing the best of mas, soca, calypso, steel bands and soundsystems.
After a long wait, west London will be taken over again with dazzling floats, kaleidoscopically dressed performers, rib-shaking soundsystems, the sweet, smoky smell of jerk chicken and steel bands over the August Bank Holiday weekend from Sunday August 28 to Monday August 29.
Notting Hill Carnival 2022 officially starts at 10am on Sunday August 28 and at 10.30am on Bank Holiday Monday, August 29.
On Carnival Saturday, the UK National Panorama Steelband kicks off at 6pm to 11pm. The Competition Steelpan extravaganza will take place the night before at Emslie Horniman’s Pleasance Park, Kensal Road, W10 3DH.
On Sunday August 28 — family day — J’Ouvert, which is a traditional celebration before the formal start of Carnival, will begin at 6am to 9am. If you’re up early enough to catch the iconic celebration, it starts at Sainsbury’s, Canal Way, Ladbroke Grove, W10 5AA.
If you can’t make J’Ouvert, the official opening ceremony will take place from 10am to 10.30am on Great Western road, before the children’s day parade and Carnival Parade kicks off and runs until 5pm.
On Carnival Sunday and Monday, the 36 static soundsystems will run from midday to 7pm at various locations across the parade map, which you can find here. On Carnival Monday, the adult's day parade will run from 10.30am to 8.30pm across the parade route.
NHC takes over Notting Hill in west London. Get off at Notting Hill Gate station, Westbourne Park or Royal Oak and simply follow the crowds. It’ll be minutes before you run into a soundsystem, a mini-street party, or the parade itself.
Each year, there are surprise guests appearing across the parade route and soundsystems —Sneakbo, Alicai Harley and Leigh-Anne Pinnock all appeared at the last IRL NHC in 2019. Even Beyoncé rocked up in 1999. But Carnival's organisers are notorious for leaving announcements until the very last moment; they love to surprise the revellers throughout the weekend.
Here's what we know about the line-up so far:
Panorama. The UK's biggest steel pan competition at Emslie Horniman Pleasance Park. August 27.
J’Ouvert. A traditional Caribbean event which marks the beginning of Carnival and kicks off before sunrise. Aug 28.
Children’s Parade. Little un’s can wear costumes and join in the parade too. Aug 28.
Traditional Parade. Features mas, soca, calypso and much more. Aug 28.
Live stages. Expect to see traditional Calypsonians, local artists and some surprise celeb stars. Aug 28.
Meanwhile Gardens. A stage for children’s entertainers and interactive performances, perfect for families with young children. Aug 28.
Soundsystems. Pitch up at a soundsystem location and dance the day away. Find each of the 30-something soundsystems dotted across the parade map. Aug 28 and 29 from midday until 7pm.
Piano People takeover. Embrace Carnival’s first-ever amapiano stage, with sounds of the popular South African house genre at the Rough But Sweet Soundsystem stage. Aug 28.
Food stalls. There are 300 of them, including Jamaican Jerk chicken, Trinidadian roti and Guyanese pepper pot. Aug 28.
Adult's day parade. Expect lots of dancing, parading and partying. Aug 29.
Taking place on Bank Holiday Monday, August 29, the main parade is around three and a half miles long and takes over most of W10. The parade circuit typically starts near Westbourne Grove tube station at 9.30am and winds down Great Western Road, slowly making its way to Westbourne Park and then up to Ladbroke Grove.
As Notting Hill’s roads will be closed off throughout the Bank Holiday weekend, you won’t be able to get an Uber or catch a bus into the heart of the action. But there are plenty of nearby tube stations are within walking distance of the main event including Notting Hill Gate, which will be ‘exit only’ from 11am to 7pm each day, to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of people using the station that day. FYI: there will be no interchange between the Circle and District line and Central Line on both days.
Royal Oak and Westbourne Park will be ‘exit only’ from 11am to 6pm, with Royal Oak closing thereafter and Westbourne Park closing after 11.30pm. Also don't forget: Latimer road will be closed from 11.30pm on both days. Avoid Ladbroke Grove and Holland Park as they're both closed on Sunday and Monday.
It might be a bit tricky to get to Carnival this year, so make sure to plan your route, folks. This Bank Holiday weekend, there's going to be 48-hour bus strike affecting 63 routes across west and south-west London. Around 1,600 Unite union members plan to walk out on Sunday and Monday, and Carnival-goers are being advised to plan their routes well in advance to avoid disruption. Check out all the routes affected by the strikes here.
Want a Carnival hack? Don’t forget to pick a meeting point in advance for when you inevitably lose your mates in the crowd.
Family day is on Carnival Sunday August 28 2022. The official opening ceremony will take place from 10am to 10.30am on Great Western road, before the children’s day parade and Carnival Parade kicks off and runs until 5pm.
If you’re after a more chilled NHC experience, go for family day on Sunday, or if you like the sound of a hard-partying parade, make sure to go on Carnival Monday. The festivities kick off with an opening ceremony on Sunday morning, with the parade starting at 10am. Monday’s adult’s day parade starts at 10.30am and afterparties run until after dark. There’s nothing stopping you from going both days, of course.
The NHC parade is free for anyone to attend and everyone is welcome. But, if you want to join in with the parade, you need to be part of a group authorised to do so, or pay to join the procession. If you want to continue the festivities into the night, you will need to buy a ticket for one of the countless afterparties across the city.
As ever, the parade will be a celebration of Caribbean history and culture with warm-up and afterparties setting the mood over the August bank holiday weekend. We got our first inkling that Notting Hill Carnival was back in action this year after it released its official 2022 line-up of mas and dutty mas bands back in February, swiftly followed by the official steel band and Brazilian band line-ups.
We’ve already had a taste of what’s in store this year after Notting Hill Carnival teamed up with Glastonbury Festival, for the first time in history to parade around Worthy Farm with stilt walkers, steelpan bands and DJs.
Watch this space as we give you more details about what you can expect from this year’s NHC as it’s announced. What we can tell you for sure, is that if you really want to shake off your lockdown blues for good, you know where you need to be this summer.
RECOMMENDED: Find more London events in August.
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