Never been to Notting Hill Carnival? Go every year and need a refresher? If you're heading to Notting Hill Carnival 2017, read on for all you need to know to enjoy the party.
What is Notting Hill Carnival?
Notting Hill Carnival is a huge, free street festival celebrating the Caribbean community. It's Europe's biggest street festival, with loud music, plenty of street food (jerk chicken is a favourite), spectacular costumes and parade processions. It's been taking place since 1966.
When is Notting Hill Carnival 2017?
Notting Hill Carnival takes place on over the August bank holiday weekend. In 2017, this is 26-28 August, although most of the action takes place on Sunday 27 and Monday 28.
Where is Notting Hill Carnival 2017?
Surprisingly, Notting Hill, but it also spills out into the streets of Ladbroke Grove, Westbourne Park and Westbourne Grove and nearby. Vast swathes of W10 and W11 will be pedestrianised to cope with the sheer numbers of people. Follow the crowds, the music and the street food smells — you'll find it.
How do I get to Notting Hill Carnival 2017?
TfL has a page dedicated to Notting Hill Carnival. At time of writing, it's still got 2016's information, but it should be updated soon. The basics you need to know are:
- The Central line will be open for the whole weekend for Queensway, Notting Hill Gate and Holland Park, and the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines will be serving Westbourne Park, Ladbroke Grove and Latimer Road. BUT, be aware that these stations (and neighbouring stations) may be closed at any time due to overcrowding.
- If you're coming by bus, be aware that roads around the carnival area will be pedestrianised, meaning that buses will be rerouted and may terminate early.
- Whatever route you're taking to carnival, expect it to be a bit of a party in its own right. Drinking alcohol is illegal on public transport, but this isn't particularly enforced when Carnival enters the equation.
What's on when at Notting Hill Carnival 2017?
Saturday 26 August (6pm-10pm)
The events begins on the evening of Saturday 26 August with Panorama, a family-friendly event in Emslie Horniman Pleasance Park, near the Trellick Tower. Expect live music from steel bands, and an all-round Caribbean atmosphere
Sunday 27 August (6am-8.30pm)
Sunday is family day, so it's calmer than Monday — but it still gets very busy. The day begins with the terrifyingly early Jouvert Carnival in Ladbroke Grove at 6am (yes, that's 6am), with steel bands and African drummers parading through the streets. Bet the neighbours love that.
From 9am, the children's parade takes place with younger performers dancing through the streets. The World Music Stage in Powis Square has Calypso performances all day, and 38 sound systems are dotted around the carnival area.
Family workshops take place at Emslie Horniman Pleasance Park, along with Caribbean food and drink stalls.
Monday 28 August (9am-8.30pm)
Today, carnival goes big. 60 bands in spectacular costumes wander through the streets in the main parade. The entertainment on the World Music Stage continues from yesterday, and those 38 sound systems will still be pumping out tunes.
This year, there will be a minute's silence for victims of the Grenfell Tower fire, which will take place at 3pm on Monday 28 August.
See the full schedule here.
What facilities are there at Notting Hill Carnival?
Toilets are dotted about in the form of portaloos but the queues are loooong. Something to think about before you have that second drink. The rush for toilets usually leads to some enterprising locals charging for entrance to their home's, taking advantage of those who've had one too many cans of Red Stripe. It's also worth carrying your own tissue/hand wash options with you.
Food and drink stalls are dotted round, focusing mainly on Caribbean food (curried goat, jerk chicken) but other cuisines have crept in too. Again, expect to queue in the main carnival areas — and bring cash.
How do I dodge the crowds?
You're joking, right? This is Europe's biggest street festival with 2 million people attending every year — dodging the crowds isn't an option. If you're bringing kids, stick to family day on the Sunday, and keep them close to you. If you need to bring a bag, make it a small one (the crowds and noise are a pickpocket's paradise). If you're meeting someone, meet them well outside of the Notting Hill area — once you're in the throng, you've no chance of spotting them.
Bring cash — many of the food and drink stalls only take cash, and local cash points have long queues (or run out of cash entirely). Dress for all weathers — sunshine and showers — and wear comfortable shoes for all the walking.
Credit cards aren't the only 21st century amenity rendered a bit useless by Carnival. You won't have much luck with mobile phones either — with so many people in such a confined area, the struggle for signal is real. We repeat: do not try and meet up with anyone at carnival itself, it's not worth it.
The official programme of events is great, but don't be a slave to it. Magical moments happen every year at Carnival from the unlikeliest of sources. That might just be a guy with a rickety looking soundsystem in the street, blasting out absolute bangers. It's not worth trekking across the Carnival and missing them if you're having fun right now. The key is to go with the flow.
What about the after parties?
Plenty of venues all over London host Notting Hill Carnival after parties, most of which take place on Sunday night, before the carnival's even over.
We quite like the sound of this Island Records party at Queens Skate, Dine and Bowl (27-28 August). They'll be building a desert island — complete with DJ booth — in the middle of the ice rink. Your ticket (£18.50, book ahead) includes a MeatLiquor burger, an Islands Records beer, bowling, ice skating, and all the Cool Runnings vibes you can muster up.
Find out more about Notting Hill Carnival 2017 on the Notting Hill Carnival website.