Music

It’s Notting Hill Carnival This Weekend

Feel the rhythm, feel the vibes.  Grab your whistles, jump-up, it’s Carnival time!

The Notting Hill Carnival is a two day, August bank holiday street party which has taken place (in various forms) since 1964 in west London.  Led by members of the British West Indian community as a celebration of their culture and traditions, Carnival is one of the largest, most popular street parties in the world. An intoxicating array of colourful sights, pumping sounds, multicultural celebration and social solidarity.

Expect Mas bands (masquerade) and dancers on floats, street food grills, steel pan bands and ear-bending, gut-vibrating static and mobile sound systems drawing you in from every corner, thrusting out reggae, dub, calypso, soca, dancehall, dubstep, hip hop, D&B, funk, soul, samba, ska, jazz, jungle, house, garage and R&B – you name it, it’s there!  Embrace the party!

Sunday is officially Children’s Day, a more relaxed family-friendly parade, featuring the exuberant Carnival team as they dance along the 3.5-mile route in their intricately handmade costumes from 10am-8.30pm

Bank holiday Monday is reserved for hard-partying and features the parade and Grand Finale. 60 bands in magnificent costumes dance to intoxicating mobile sound system rhythms and steel bands, whilst a sea of fun-loving Carnival-goers join in, fully embracing the vibrant atmosphere.

Over the years Carnival has played host to may iconic sound systems; Goodtimes, Gladdy Wax, Jah Observer, King Tubby’s, Sancho Panza to name just a few. Sadly Norman Jay MBE’s Goodtimes was forced to leave its spot last year due to re-development, so the party is moving east this year instead.  Solution Soundsystem will be taking over the reins from Jah Observer, staying true to the original sounds. Don’t forget to swing by the World Music stage (Powis Square) and check out the live bands too.

Useful Links:

Full list of sound systems and their info can be found here:

Carnival route and static sound system map for mobile (courtesy of TimeOut) here (download it before you go. Sheer volumes of people means reception can be a nightmare).

TFL’s travel info (a necessity before you head out, station and road restrictions will be in place) here:

Warm-up and after-parties:  Although Carnival itself takes place in the streets of W10/W11, after the strict sound curfew descends, the party continues further afield.  Here’s a selection for you:

Saturday 26th August: Hot Wuk Truck Party – Carnival Special at Koko – Get Tickets

Sunday 28th August: Summer Splash Carnival Boat Party, Westminster Pier – Get Tickets

Sunday 28th August: Hip Hop vs. Dancehall – Carnival Special, The Garage – Get Tickets

Sunday 28th August: The Hot Carnival Party – Glow Edition, O2 Academy Islington – Get Tickets

Monday 29th August: Faded – The Carnival After Party, Coronet – Get Tickets

Top tips:  Get ready for a uniquely fun experience, plenty of sights, sounds and smiles. Keep an open mind, either go with the flow or if you need to meet up with mates, plan a designated time/place as the streets will look unrecognisable in the crowds. Bring enough cash to last you the day, local cash machines always run out, plus you don’t want to waste valuable party time queuing now do you?! Sample the street food, jerk chicken grills, goat curries and rice, washed down with a few rum punches. Warning: a properly made Caribbean rum punch can be deceptively lethal, so go easy if you don’t want to be face-planted and drooling into the pavement by 3pm!  Expect big crowds in tight spaces, for this reason, flip flops/sandals are a no-no (if you want to keep all your toenails). Wear some comfy shoes you don’t mind getting filthy, the gorgeous mas girls have mastered the art of parade in stilettos, but us mere mortals shouldn’t attempt it. Toilets are an experience! Port-a-loos there are in abundance, but never enough.  Pubs/restaurants/coffee shops often close theirs or charge. Don’t bat an eyelid if you queue to spend £2 peeing in a local resident’s bathroom, blokes out in their garden into a dustbin. Don’t be one of those pricks who pisses in someone’s stairwell, respect your fellow carnival goers.  Have an amazing time!

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