Notting Hill Carnival is an annual event that takes the streets of London by storm for 2 whole days. Featuring colourful costumes and traditional Caribbean music and food, the Carnival is a huge event that consistently draws in massive crowds of Caribs and non-Caribs alike.
This year’s event is set to be as great as ever, but before we go into that, here’s some information about the Carnival.
/top-destinations/grenada-flights/holidaysThe history of Notting Hill Carnival
The very first Caribbean Carnival was held in London in 1959. It was put together by Trinidadian Claudia Jones, who is lovingly known as “the mother of Notting Hill Carnival”. Originally, the Carnival was organised to cool the friction between Caribs and British residents, but it then became an annual celebration of all things Caribbean.
Just like the celebrations we have today, the original Caribbean Carnival featured large, booming speakers that played traditional music, with plenty of great food and drink – and lots of rum!
Who hosts it?
Notting Hill Carnival is organised and managed by British West Indian communities. The event is put on for free in order to celebrate Black British culture in London and holds great significance to the people in the community.
What to wear
At Carnival, you can get as creative as you like! The event is full to the brim with colourful costumes, glitter, bold makeup and decorative body pieces. Wear whatever you want.
The only thing we would suggest is that you wear comfortable footwear because the day-long events can be tiring if you wear uncomfortable shoes. Plus, you won’t be able to dance as much, so maybe leave the heels at home.
Where to stay
If you’re planning on seeing the whole event but don’t live in London, there are many places for you to stay. Here are a few of the best ones: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/europe/united-kingdom/england/london/west/notting-hill/hotels/
However, please bear in mind that you will need to book well in advance, as the event brings hundreds of thousands to the Notting Hill area. You might be able to find more hotels just outside of the borough and simply commute to the event on foot or via public transport.
How to get there
We recommend travelling by public transport due to the heavy traffic that you will undoubtedly meet when driving. Plus, parking is very difficult to find during Carnival. Only bring your car if you really need to.
As for public transport, the schedules will undoubtedly change before Carnival, so be on the lookout for the updated timetables before you set off. Check the information page from Transport for London to see all the changes to public transportation during Carnival https://tfl.gov.uk/status-updates/major-works-and-events/august-bank-holiday-and-notting-hill-carnival .
Notting Hill Carnival 2018:
This year’s Carnival is set to be a good one. The weather has been fantastic, the events look amazing, and the parade itself is always a day to remember. There are a multitude of great food stalls to sample and bopping music to enjoy, plus the vibe will be absolutely incredible (as always). For the super eagers ones among you, there are also a couple of warm up parties to get the party going sooner, and after parties so the fun doesn’t have to stop!
Warm up parties
Fabriclive Carnival Special https://www.timeout.com/london/nightlife/fabriclive-carnival-special is held on Friday night at Fabric nightclub, Farringdon. It kicks off at 11pm and continues for 7 hours. The track list includes genres such as dancehall, jungle, reggae, grime, and Afrobeat in one room, and drum & bass in another. There also live performances from Rum’n’Riddim. Visit their website to book tickets.
The Notting Hill Carnival team have organised a steel band music competition, complete with street food and dancing, to be held at Emslie Horniman’s Pleasance from 6pm until 10pm on Saturday. It’s free and fun for all the family, so head on down for some great entertainment.
Your Mum’s House x Carnival Warmup https://www.timeout.com/london/nightlife/your-mums-house-x-carnival-warm-up is held on Saturday night at Village Underground nightclub, Shoreditch. It starts at 10pm and finishes late. Come along for hip-hop, bass, future sounds and party bangers, plus a ‘secret guest’, whom the venue assure has had some of the biggest tunes of the year. Check the venue’s website for tickets.
Sunday is Family Day, which (as the name suggests) is highly recommended for families. The day starts with a traditional J’ouvert at 6am, marking the beginning of Notting Hill carnival, in which the parade of steel bands, riddim bands and African drummers makes its way through the streets before finishing at 9am.
Throughout the day from 9am to 8.30pm, there is also a Children’s Parade to enjoy. The costumes are bright and exciting and there are many kid-inspired floats to see. What’s more, you can relish plenty of traditional Caribbean food from the event stalls, plus great music with performances from the Association of British Calypsonians.
The main event: Monday. This is the day for adults.
The Notting Hill Grand Finale Parade is sure to be a show-stopper, full of incredible performances, food and drink, and entertainment. There will be a whopping 60 bands playing over the course of the day, plus music booming over the static sound systems https://nhcarnival.org/sound-systems-1/ .
Live stages https://nhcarnival.org/live-stages/ are where you will find a number of up-and-coming artists performing various genres of music, whereas mas, Brazilian and steel bands will be following the parade https://nhcarnival.org/parade/ .
Here is a map of the Notting Hill Carnival 2018 route. Come prepared – it’s a long one!
Stevie Wonderland Carnival Afterparty https://www.timeout.com/london/nightlife/stevie-wonderland-carnival-afterparty#tab_panel_3 starts on Sunday at 10pm and finishes at 5am. Hosted by Stevie Wonderland and crew, the annual after party at the Bussey Building features a tropical mashup of house and disco, plus shed loads of glitter. This year’s lineup includes Romare, Auntie Flo, Mr Mendel, Alexander Nut, Donna Leake and Ba'nana Hill DJs. You can purchase tickets from their website.
Metalheadz Carnival Afterparty https://www.timeout.com/london/nightlife/metalheadz-carnival-afterparty#tab_panel_3 starts at 10pm at Egg London. There’s plenty of drum and bass to be enjoyed here, as well as sets from 2 Bad Mice, Commix, Doc Scott, Randall, and many more. There will also be a 2 hour set from a special mystery guest. Tickets available on their website.
We hope you have a great time at Notting Hill Carnival 2018. As one of the biggest Caribbean Carnivals in the world, you’re more than guaranteed to have a great time.
To experience a truly authentic Caribbean Carnival, check out some of our flight and holiday deals to various Caribbean locations. Carnival season is always booming and it’s a highlight for the islands. Hot spots are Trinidad and Tobago, the Bahamas, Jamaica and Grenada.