Notting Hill Carnival Guide – 10 Useful Tips
by Marta – Astor Kensington
With a spectacular parade, extravagant costumes, and exotic music, Notting Hill Carnival is a yearly celebration of London’s Caribbean communities. It is known as Europe’s biggest street festival as it attracts millions of tourists every year. So keep your days free on the 25th and 26th of August if you want to join the fun! With the whole shenanigans only a few steps away from Astor Kensington, we have some useful tips for you to make the most of this year’s Notting Hill Carnival!
1. Plan ahead
During the days of the Carnival, a few underground stations around Notting Hill are closed and most of the streets in the area are only accessible on foot. Our advice is to get there early to avoid congestion and to check the Transport for London app or Citymapper for updates.
2. Know your pace
The first day of the Carnival is usually regarded as Children’s Day, where visitors can experience a more relaxed and family-friendly atmosphere. Monday brings on the main parade and party. Even though it can get very crowded and hectic, that is when you can really experience the spectacle of the celebration, including the extravagant costumes.
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4. Try out the food
You will find a lot of food stalls scattered around the streets, where you can try out the tasty Caribbean food, like the famous Jamaican Jerk Chicken, the Jamaican patty or the delicious curry. Just a heads up: it can be very spicy, but it is a must try!
4. Bring cash
Even though some places may accept card payments, make sure you bring some cash with you, especially if you are planning on trying the street food or buying water and drinks.
5. Be ready to queue
With an excess of 2 million visitors last year, Notting Hill streets get crowded— especially on Monday. Try to meet up with your friends on a quiet street and not at the actual party. Be aware that you may have to queue up for a while to get some food or to go to the porta-a-loos in the streets.
6. Stay extra safe
As in every big and crowded place, it is essential to keep your belongings in a safe place. Always keep an eye on your bags and try not to bring along valuables for that day. Better be safe than sorry!
7. Come prepared
Even though the Carnival takes place in the middle of the summer, we all know the British weather is unpredictable. Along with sunscreen and a hat, it is advised to bring a raincoat and waterproof items as well.
8. Show your love
To celebrate the rich culture and history of the Caribbean community, everyone is welcome to dress up with their traditional colorful garments. Don’t be afraid to exaggerate with your make up and be covered in glitter and jewelry. The dress code for festivals has no limits.
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9. Find a good spot.
Being in the middle of a crowd can be overwhelming, so try to go there in advance, get a map of the festival route and find the perfect spot to watch the parade along the streets of the city.
10. Plan the after party.
After the main day event, the celebrations are far from over! People can join the after party fun in one of the city’s many venues. Our advice: head to Brixton if you want to keep having a taste of London’s Caribbean vibes.
Looking for a place to stay over the Carnival? Astor Kensington is just a few steps away from it, while Astor Hyde Park is only across the park which also makes it the perfect hub for your Carnival weekend.
Featured image source: Flickr – S Pakhrin