Originally starting out as an offshoot of Trinidad’s Carnival for London’s Caribbean communities, today Notting Hill Carnival is Europe’s biggest street festival full of live bands, floats, sound-systems, street food and day-long dance parades.

With an estimated two million revellers looking to watch as west London transforms into a tropical retreat this August, you too can feast on the festivities by planning your visit to Notting Hill Carnival with our insider information below.

When is Notting Hill Carnival?

Returning for its 53rd year on Sunday 25 and Monday 25 August 2019, Notting Hill Carnival traditionally takes place on the Sunday and Monday of the UK August Bank Holiday weekend.

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Where does Notting Hill Carnival take place?

The celebrations take place in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea on the streets of W10 and W11 around Notting Hill, Ladbroke Grove, Westbourne Park, Westbourne Grove and Kensal Road.

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What should you expect?

Get ready to dance to a soundtrack of soca, steel pans, calypso and other rhythms from the Caribbean while admiring the spectacular costumes and customs coming to life in the UK’s capital city. The Carnival floats and bands set off at 9 am on both Sunday and Monday mornings, running roughly until 8 pm on both days. 

While Sunday is designated as Family Day’ so that children can celebrate the cultural programme, Bank Holiday Monday is the day of the main parade promising frenetic fun from morning to night.

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How can I get to Notting Hill Carnival?

Don’t even think about driving: parking is a nightmare as a large number of road closures are put in place, so public transport is definitely the way to go.

That being said, some bus routes and underground stations will be closed over the whole weekend to prevent overcrowding so plan ahead via TFL’s website and social media.

Many of the best tube stops including Notting Hill Gate station will be exit-only so if you don’t mind a short walk, take a casual stroll from High Street Kensington Station. 

The latest update on the underground station is as follows:

Bayswater and Paddington will be open as usual. 

Holland Park is exit-only from 6pm on both days.

Ladbroke Grove will be closed on both days.

Latimer Road will close at 11.30pm on both days.

Notting Hill Gate will be exit-only from 11am-7pm on both days. Circle and District line trains will not stop here between 11am-7pm on both days.

Royal Oak will be exit-only from 11am-6pm on both days and will close at 6pm.

Westbourne Park will be exit-only 11am-6pm both days and will close at 11.30pm.

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How to Dress for Notting Hill Carnival

Ditch the heels and wear flat shoes that you can really dance in. Open-toe shoes are also a no-no as your feet are likely to get trampled on.

When it comes to clothes, adopt the rule: If it’s bright, it’s right.” Make sure your fashion is as flamboyant as the floats by wearing colour, feathers, sequins and glitter.

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What to pack for Notting Hill Carnival

Pack sunscreen and a rain jacket – this is London, where the weather is unpredictable. It’s also a good idea to bring a bottle of water to rehydrate after all that dancing, and some money to savour the flavours on offer. 

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Notting Hill Carnival’s Best Bites

Jerk chicken, curried goat, rice and peas, golden patties, fried plantain, salt-fish, ackee and other delicious Caribbean classics are all on offer, so ditch the diet and get stuck in.

Alongside Rum Punch, expect to see Red Stripe (Jamaica’s favourite beer) being swigged. Bottoms up.

Want to make the most of your trip to Notting Hill Carnival? Check out our guides on the best things to do in London.

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