For first timers and regulars alike, Notting Hill can be as challenging as it is exhilarating. However brilliant three days of drinking, eating and dancing may sound, it can take its toll if you don’t plan it right. With this in mind, here are our 10 IDEAL tips for getting the most out of London’s amazing Notting Hill Carnival.
Also, remember that this year carnival-goers are being encouraged to don the colour green to show solidarity with those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire. There will also be green artworks, memorials and banners across the Notting Hill area.
Forget the Tubes
London tubes can be a nightmare at the best of times, but during carnival it’s worse. Some underground stations are shut to avoid congestion, and the ones that stay open are understandably full to bulging. But don’t just wing it, plan how you’re going to get there before setting off, checking on Transport for London which is constantly updated with information of station delays and closures. We recommend getting the overground to Kensal Rise, it’s only a thirty minute walk from there. Here’s a list of what’s going down with the transport this weekend.
If you do plan on coming from Kensal Rise, The Shop NW10 is a fab little independent bar selling cocktails in jam jars and is a great place to get a pre-carnival drink. However, stick to short drinks if possible, as you don’t want to break the golden seal too early.
Meet your friends before entering the madness
A must is to meet your friends before entering the Notting Hill Carnival area. Because of all the road closures and partying people, it’s an absolute nightmare trying to meet up once you’re there and you’ll most likely get zero signal. Also highly advisable, set a place to rendezvous, such as the park in Powis Square or a particular sound system’s stage, in case you lose each other.
Go old school and take a map
There is no point relying on google maps to get you anywhere at the carnival. There are so many people trying to use their phones which means you might not be able to access your network. Instead rely on a good old fashioned map. There are usually people around handing out maps of the festival so make sure you get one. Really embrace the party spirit and leave your phone at home, if you can bare to.
Get the cash
Finding a cash machine at the carnival is like finding a needle in a haystack. What’s more, any ATMs at the event will have monster queues and monster charges to match. Get plenty of cash out before you go. Also, bring some change with you, essential once you’ve broken the seal and need to burst into a strangers house to use the loo!
Carnival cleanliness essentials
Don’t rely on the portaloos to have any toilet paper, they run out fast so bring some tissue paper with you. In addition, although jerk chicken is finger lickin’ good, you don’t know what your hands have touched during carnival. A better idea is to bring some wet wipes for your post-chicken fingers. Hand sanitiser is an obvious must. Also sunscreen, sunglasses and bottled water will likely come in useful. Here’s hoping for some Caribbean like sunshine!
Wear comfy shoes
Ditch the heels and say no to sandals and open toe shoes. Your feet are going to get trampled on and you’ll probably be wading through broken glass and rubbish as the day goes on. Also, leave those white trainers in the wardrobe unless you want to dirty them up. Think closed-toe flats, plimsolls and trainers.
Don’t forget the soundsystems
We know Notting Hill Carnival is all about the parade, but we think the best bit is the mega sound systems down the side streets. This year there are over 30 official static soundsystems playing everything from reggae to calypso, house to dub and much more. The chest rattling rhythms of the sound systems are not to be missed.
If you’re going to Notting Hill Carnival, Caribbean food is a must. Don’t be a mug and have a diet of dirty burgers. We can already smell the delicious aromas of jerk chicken, fried plantains and goat curry wafting through the air. It’s damn good.
Join the afterparty
After the show is the afterparty! If you’re not too drunk or tired from being on your feet all day, then hit the afterparty. There are loads going on so keep your eyes peeled for event listings or your ears to the ground for rumuors of secret DJ sets and more.
Click here for full event details for Notting Hill Carnival