Since 1966 Notting Hill Carnival has taken over this small and gentrifying part of West London. Originally starting as a celebration of Caribbean culture, every year it has grown to become one of the biggest street festivals in the world. This years carnival is set to be the biggest one yet! We have put together a few tips to make sure your carnival weekend goes smoothly!
Have a plan
Notting Hill Carnival is massive, covering a few square miles of West London and on top of the carnival procession, there are around thirty different sound systems and stages. It wont be possible to see and enjoy everything at Carnival. For the best experience, pick about 4 or 5 that look the best for each day and then plan to follow the carnival route at 7pm after the sound systems close.
Water from the shop – between 20 and 50p. Water from a Carnival store – about £3 – and thats after waiting half an hour. Bring your own bottles of water. You will save time and money.
Bring your alcohol
Theres nothing like some good reggae under the summer sun with a few cans of ice cold Red Stripe, or a glass of Rum Punch.
What isnt so good is paying through the nose for it. Whatever your drink of choice, buy it before you get to the Notting Hill area, unless you want to be queueing for ages at a stall and have an empty wallet.
There will be almost a million people crammed into a small part of West London. The cash machines will run out of money – or be out of service. Between 20 and 60 cash should be enough. Dont bring more than you can afford to lose. Theres always a risk of pick pockets, or more likely you losing it after one too many.
Don’t expect signal
With so many people crammed into one small area, all the phone networks will crash. Unless you will be lucky enough to have wifi access don’t be expecting to keep your snap or insta stories updated. Don’t expect to be able to call your friends and find out where they are either. Stay together and don’t get lost.
Meet your friends outside carnival
No one knows the street names around Notting Hill – in fact getting lost is part of the fun. However, never plan to meet anyone inside the carnival. The best thing to do is to arrange for everyone to meet before you go in to the carnival area -either at one of the tube stations around carnival or a recognisable landmark a short distance away. Westfield London is a good place.
Best Tube Stations for Notting Hill Carnival
Notting Hill Gate
The stations nearest to the carnival area may have entry and exit restrictions for some of the day
Bring A Map
There will be maps available from places around the route or you can download one offline. Google Maps have an offline mode which is kind of useful but if your battery dies you’re screwed. Keep it retro and use good old fashioned paper!
Expect your creps to get destroyed
Don’t wear your new Giuseppes or Balenciagas to Carnival unless you want them to be decorated with stains from discarded jerk chicken and rice containers, splashes of drink, dirt from people stepping on them and the general road gunk of severs hundred thousand people. Wear trainers you don’t mind getting destroyed. For the girls – wear trainers. You will be doing at least a couple of miles of walking.
Do not bring weapons to carnival. If you see an opp leave it for another day. However innocent people can get caught up as well. Don’t bring any form of blade or tool to carnival. Police will be stopping and searching people at random. If caught with anything the consequences will be severe.
Don’t do it.
Go Easy on the drugs
Typically the police have taken a very lenient policy towards smoking weed at carnival. As long as your not making trouble, or openly selling it or you aren’t unlucky enough to be stopped and searched then you will be fine. However it doesn’t mean go crazy. Catching a Whitey in the middle of 000s of people can’t be pleasant experience. As for other drugs – we don’t condone it but if you do or have a friend that does know your limits and stay safe. If anything bad happens it may be difficult for help to get to you.
Catch a wine
Carnival wouldn’t be carnival if you didn’t catch at least one wine. If you don’t know what that is check out the video. Keep it consensual tho!