Celebration

A beginner's guide to surviving Notting Hill Carnival

The August bank holiday is the last long weekend before Christmas and we are going to make the most of it: we’re going to dance, eat and drink our way through the streets of London’s Notting Hill!  

This coming bank holiday Sunday and Monday, mahoosive crowds of all races, ages and genders will descend on West London to celebrate the colourful Caribbean culture and have a grand old time, just as they have for the last 50-odd years. 

If you’ve never been to Notting Hill Carnival, it can be daunting; especially with the negative coverage in the news. Fear not though, there is a heavy police presence and, when they’re not wiggling their hips to the music, they’re there to keep everyone safe. With a little bit of caution and a lot of wining (in both the drinking and dancing sense), you’ll literally have your happiest day of the year so far (I'm not kidding) and love the unbelievable vibes. So, make like those dancing policemen and get yourself down to London’s biggest street party this weekend…

Find a good spot
Whether you go on Sunday -  also known as Family Day, where paint, liquid chocolate, glitter and general happiness fly high in the sky – or Monday – the beautiful costume day – you do not want to miss a thing. Grab your drinks, snacks and sit your butt down on the best bit of pavement you can find. You can find the official route on the Notting Hill Carnival official website, so you can place yourself perfectly between the food, parade and sound systems.

‘Run’ with a float
Alternatively, don’t just watch the parade, be in it! Granted, you need to be prepared for this one. Tickets start selling around April/May time, but are still available right until the week before the bank holiday. I run with Colours, a massive, seven-hour paint party on the road on Sunday, then mesmerising costumes come Monday. These teams sell packages that include unlimited drinks (and, boy, is that rum punch GOOD), food, t-shirts, souvenirs, toilets, international DJs and a full security team to set your mind at ease as you party away.

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Drink a little slower
It’s a full day, and there are shit loads of people about. You need your wits about you if you ever want to find your friends again after lone-wolfing it to the food stand, or if you want to catch any of the many UK and international DJ sets. Now, OBVIOUSLY I'm not saying don’t drink, just saying drink a little slower, or with water in between. Something I've not yet mastered, but will... soon. 

Plan your route home
There are a lot of road closures and station closures in the area during Carnival, so it's best to plan how you’re going to get there, and home again, in advance. Head to TfL's website to work out your best route.

Just have fun
The whole point of the weekend is celebrating and enjoying yourself. That means every size, race and type of person are welcome to just let loose. Don’t feel self-conscious; embrace the paint, chocolate and costumes, and sing and dance your heart out!

See you there!