Notting Hill Carnival – the iconic annual celebration of Caribbean culture that sees millions of Londoners descend on Ladbroke Grove for a long weekend of food, music and dance – is finally back after a three year hiatus.
It’s just over 60 years since the first ‘carnival’ was held in a town hall up in King’s Cross. A few years later, in 1966, a grass-roots version sprung up on the streets of Notting Hill, reaching a whopping two bands in 1970. Nowadays, it’s an epic event, with the whole area closed off to traffic for two days over the August Bank Holiday.
Sunday is more of a family day, with local kids taking part in the floats and parades weaving through the streets. Bank Holiday Monday has a more grown-up vibe, with more street parties; steel pan bands; dancers in glittering, elaborate costumes; dozens of food stalls serving traditional Caribbean dishes like curried goat and jerk chicken; rum cocktails; sound-stations blasting out calypso, dancehall and soca music; and, of course, the Grand Finale Parade. You’ll also find live music stages in the Meanwhile Gardens and Powis Square.
Getting there can be tricky since most of the streets get closed off, and public transport tends to get busy, so build in plenty of contingency time. Aiming for Westbourne Grove, Chepstow Road or Ladbroke Grove will get you into the action enough to give you a starting point for exploring the streets. And there’s now even an app that’ll let you track floats, find the nearest loo, and suss out the food & drink vendors.
Sunday kicks off at 10.30am, and Monday at 10am, with everything cooling off by about 8pm – but there are plenty of after-parties in the surrounding bars if your feet haven’t completely given up.
After all, other street parties have got Notting on this one.
NOTE: The Notting Hill Carnival next takes place on 27th – 29th August 2022 – you can find out more right HERE.
While you’re in the neighbourhood… check out the best bars in Notting Hill