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Notting Hill Carnival guide

Dancing, music and masquerade – join the Carnival fun in Notting Hill next August bank holiday weekend

Notting Hill Carnival © mubus/Shutterstock

With an expected two million or so attendees, Notting Hill Carnival is Europe’s biggest street festival and a vivid spectacle representing London's multicultural past and present. It's also a vital date in any party lover's diary. But, whatever you do, don’t go anywhere without reading our guide, which includes invaluable information, tips and travel details about Notting Hill Carnival 2017. 

What is Notting Hill Carnival?
A free celebration of the capital's Caribbean communities, their culture and traditions, which has been taking place since 1964, featuring two days of fantastic live music ranging from reggae to dub to salsa. The celebration includes 37 static soundsystemssoca floats, steel bands and a whole lot of jerk chicken and fried plantain. 

Where does Notting Hill Carnival take place?
Spread throughout W10 in west London, the celebrations take over the areas of Notting Hill, Ladbroke Grove and Westbourne Park. The main parade starts on Great Western Road, winding its way along Chepstow Road, then on to Westbourne Grove, and then down Ladbroke Grove.

When does Notting Hill Carnival take place?
Carnival traditionally takes place on the bank holiday weekend at the end of August. This year it's on 26-27 August 2018. Timings for the parade (which takes place on both days) will be announced closer to the time. 

What's the best way to get there?
Many tube and bus services in the area are subject to disruption over Carnival, so consult our guide to travel here to make your arrival and departure as easy as possible.

Should I take kids to Carnival?
Of course, with some preparation, lots of people take their kids, particularly on Sunday's 'Family Day' which is traditionally quieter than the Monday. Arrive early to beat the crowds. Bring travel potties, snacks and water because queues and kids aren't the most compatible combo. Top tip: Write your mobile number on your child’s arm, so they can contact you if you get separated.

Here’s a quick checklist if you're going with kids:
1. Go on Sunday or 'Family Day'. It’s still busy (and noisy) but it’s much more kid-friendly than the main parade on Monday.
2. Arrive early. You’ll beat the crowds and can get a good, comfortable spot.
3. Bring ear defenders for the little ’uns.
4. Plan your travel route beforehand and check which tube stations are closed – see above for travel info.
5. Bring travel potties for very young children, as portable toilets at Carnival will have long queues.
6. Bring some easily transportable food and water for them in case you can’t buy anything suitable.
7. Don’t buy them a vuvuzela unless you want a perforated ear drum!

VIDEO: Notting Hill Carnival: Meet the Genesis Mas Band


RECOMMENDED: Find more London events in August.

Notting Hill Carnival 2017

Essential Carnival info

Essential Carnival info

Download your Carnival map
Music

Download your Carnival map

Warm-up and afterparties
Clubs

Warm-up and afterparties

Notting Hill soundsystems
Music

Notting Hill soundsystems

Notting Hill Carnival features

50 things you didn't know about Carnival
Music

50 things you didn't know about Carnival

Here are 50 facts you might not know about Europe's biggest street party

A spotter’s guide to Carnival
Music

A spotter’s guide to Carnival

There are some things you only see at Carnival. Keep your eyes peeled for this lot at Notting Hill Carnival 2016

Top tips from Carnival experts
Music

Top tips from Carnival experts

Ms Dynamite, Gabriel Heatwave, Treble T, Dominik Prosser, Bernard Jackson and more provide their tips to enjoying Notting Hill Carnival

How to speak like a Carnival pro
Music

How to speak like a Carnival pro

Know your wine from your lime, with this handy glossary of Carnival vocab.

A look at Notting Hill Carnival history

In pictures: Notting Hill Carnival 2016
News

In pictures: Notting Hill Carnival 2016

Take a look at last year's fabulous parade in all its multicoloured, feathery, sequinned glory

What we wore to Notting Hill Carnival
Music

What we wore to Notting Hill Carnival

How much has fashion changed over the history of Carnival? See archive photos and read memories from four generations

Notting Hill Carnival from the Time Out archive
Music

Notting Hill Carnival from the Time Out archive

Pictures from 1975-1990, the Time Out archive has thrown up some fascinating photos and pictures from Notting Hill Carnival

This one time at Notting Hill Carnival…
Music

This one time at Notting Hill Carnival…

Carival dancers, Shy FX, Toddla T and The Heatwave tell us their favourite Notting Hill Carnival memories

Explore Notting Hill

Notting Hill area guide
Things to do

Notting Hill area guide

Notting Hill is the perfect place to spend a weekend. Whether you're into shopping, eating, film, or plain people watching, Notting Hill is a great place to spend some time

Notting Hill restaurants
Restaurants

Notting Hill restaurants

Brimming with great cafés and restaurants, Notting Hill will always have the perfect meal to suit both your tastebuds and budget. From simple fish and chips at Geales to modern cuisine at the Notting Hill Brasserie

Portobello Road Market
Shopping

Portobello Road Market

Best known for antiques and collectibles, this is actually several markets rolled into one: antiques start at the Notting Hill end; further up are food stalls; under the Westway and along the walkway to Ladbroke Grove are emerging designer and vintage clothes on Fridays (usually marginally less busy) and Saturdays (invariably manic). Browse more of London's best markets

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Notting Hill bars and pubs
Bars and pubs

Notting Hill bars and pubs

With some of the poshest and poorest communities in London, Notting Hill is a melting pot, and this diversity gives it an atmosphere all of its own

Comments

25 comments
Chibueze K. I

i want to get contact of notting hill carnival organizers to help me organize carnival by December to share traditional values in exchange.contact me via facebook with this name:kisslove media and global entertainment company

FloA tastemaker

I went to Notting Hill Carnival yesterday and as usually it was a fantastic day out, full of colours, feather, music, red stripes and Jerk chicken.

This was my 4th time at the Carnival and I still enjoy it. 

Getting my ways around the crowd gets easier as I know a bit better where I'm going now. 

For the newbies to Notting Hill carnival, I'd definitely recommend downloading the TimeOut map (really clear and helpful, especially to find toilets!!)

Of course it is essential to have a look at the parade but make sure you're also stopping by a few soundsystems. The atmosphere there is electric and worth experiencing.

One more thing, get there early! (In my opinion starting around 11.00AM and leaving by 4.00PM is ideal).

dee n

MYTH - that Carnival is enjoyed by the locals.  SO - why do they leave London at this time?

Why do shops barricade their doors and windows?   Why do local houses with front gardens barricade their gate?   Because carnival visitors use any accessible garden as a toilet, because many of them steal;  because residents fear the violence.  


LINDA:   Yes, it is as awful as it seems, in fact much worse than is reported.  And avoid the food!

Linda A

Nottinghill Carnival!

Yesterday I kept thinking how comes no one is mentioning how many people attended???? Because when you proportion it out it does not make good new. Sorry it is then not as awful as it seems. I'm not saying I condone violence I don't. I have seen the ugly side of carnival, I just hate the very skewed vision that is sold with everything black related!

Two million people in two days, which park could u hold that in! Sometimes I hate this bloody country and how they demonise our events.

76 arrests at creamfields 40,000 capacity.

Leeds festival this year one death. 75,000 capacity.

20 arrests so they say at reading, 87,000 capacity, reading has a well known tradition of bottling, where acts have been historically bottled off the stage but I guess this is ok. I spoke to a young man who said he would never go to reading again as there are not enough police and there are groups of boys rolling around looking to fight. Oh and anyone on Twitter may have been exposed to a awful video of 4 men urinating on their very drunk friend. These bits are not news as they are not of the racial mix that the mud does not stick.

Least we forget that the once very ethnic Nottinghill went through ethnic cleansing in the late 80's, oops no it was the cash for homes scandal! To gentrify the area and push up house prices.

The government make tonnes of money from the carnival that more than covers the cost of staffing it in whatever capacity. But just like anything else in this country we want to make more money so let's demonise it and scare everyone then they will agree to put it in a park then you will have to pay to attend. Great!

Jack W

@Linda A well I'll be there yet again for good music and good vibes :)

rob s

Hayley - I took the photograph that you have used for the lead article. More than happy for you to use it, and I've been a loyal follower of Time Out for years, it but I'd appreciate a credit please. 

Aimee C

I'm sure the Carnival is 3 days from Saturday to Monday and Is always in May or June. In August people are on holiday. I always go Carnivol

Vashti S

WAAAAAY I WANT TO COME TO CARNIVAL ! PICK ME UP OR EMAIL ME @ YOU KNOW MY ADDRESS IM LOGGED IN...SMILE

Isabelly Tastemaker

I'm sorry to say but I felt like Carnival this year depicted some kind of London dystopia. I was expecting colourful dancers with great plumes of feathers for lingerie, but alas I will not be ruffling anyone's feathers with this review. There were just a massive mob of eerily clad goths, trying to ambush everyone with selfie sticks and (suspicious looking) white body paint (although I do appreciate Batman in his Hermes t-shirt in this photo). And then there's the toilet issue - if would be alright if there was an obvious way to escape the abyss but you'd walk around the corner, and there would be ANOTHER mob surrounding by ANOTHER half-assed boombox, blocking your escape.

Modou

I wont to come but I don't know how to get their

bookmusic d

Your post is very nice to read and very informative. I love to here music and musical fest. Recently I had enjoyed the musical fest of http://www.bookmusic.dk. It has mind blowing and rocking performance. They had a very good band artist, light effect, sound system, stage lighting.

jack j

In your blog post you have given new information for me and help me to know about new thing. I was unknown to Notting Hill Carnival, but now I decided to go to join this festival after my tour by http://www.getbustours.com/newyeareve-tours/. I hope it will be a nice experience for me.

Robert A

hoping for  a good family day out at carnival just have to miss the gran prix or watch highlights

Mena B

I agree who ever did their research shame on you.

Mena B

You know the sad thing, not a lot of people of Caribbean descent know what the true meaning of Carnival is at all. SMH just like the researcher.

Alan R

Why do you put Reggae music as the main music of carnival. Please do your research and stop misleading people/readers, of course Raggae has a role but the main music for carnival floats costume bands is not reggae!

Lynda J

In order for The carnival to grow and be spectacular the Mas Bands (floats) need support by ordinary people participating very few bands receive funding from the arts council, if you would like to support a band that does not receive funding you can ask when you contact them if they do, did you know in Holland the local authority pays for the trucks for the bands on the road because they acknowledge the contribution the carnival makes to the country by the way of tourism and revenue! in London we get nothing, but generate millions (in excess of 100 Million) for London   don't forget you can make the show! so spread the love and support Europe's Largest street festival, remember without floats and costumes there is no carnival!

Lynda J

also have a read of the insiders view on this site.

diane

we went to the carnival on Monday, full or excitement and expectation of a wonderful and colourful day. instead we got glimpses of several trucks with nothing happening on them and a few people in front or behind them who looked like spare stand ins. the loud music was good plenty of people just going to party and drink which is good but as for the carnival, which is supposed to be what its all about was a let down. the day seemed to be about girls just shaking booty every two minutes with not much effort on costume and every one just their to walk about getting drunk not really taking much interest in the passing empty lorries grinding with odd booty shaker and waiting to just have more drink and dance at the after party's. one big street pub and restaurant and not much else!! at least the music and traditional curry goat made up for it.

Technicolor

Best carnival ever. Amazing parade, wonderful music. Absolutely delicious yummy food. Beautiful people, and the best soundsystems. A total blessing

bigsands

Yep! This is one of the best events in London each year and it all starts with the steel band competition on Kensal Road this Saturday evening. You can hear the vibrant sounds of bands with over 50 players and feel the energy and rhythm of real Caribbean steel bands. For more on steel band music and parties, follow on Twitter/bigsands