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Are you going to London’s biggest street party? Looking for the best Notting Hill Carnival route? Maybe you’re still wondering, “What is the Notting Hill Carnival?”
Even if you don’t know much about the Notting Hill Carnival, by the end of this post you’ll have all the information you need!
I have visited the Notting Hill Carnival for years, and I try to continue the tradition each and every year!
When you think of Notting Hill, the classic movie probably springs to mind but Notting Hill is also famous for its eccentric carnival! This guide provides you with all the things you’ll need to know about the colourful Notting Hill Carnival in London.
The Notting Hill Carnival, Europe’s largest street festival, is one of the must-do experiences if you are able to attend.
KEY INFORMATION NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL DATES
- 📍Location: Notting Hill, London
- 🗓️Date: August 27 – 28, 2023 (August Bank Holiday Weekend)
- 🏨Hotel & Flight: Book Now
It’s a chance to celebrate African-Caribbean heritage, and if you are an avid carnival goer, this will be a London bucket list event for you to attend.
Tip: If it is your first time in London, here are a few London travel tips to get you up to speed on anything you might need to know before visiting.
As one of the main things to do over the summer Bank Holiday weekend of August 27-28, 2023, the Notting Hill Carnival attendance reaches around 2 million people each year.
Below you’ll find an extensive guide with all the need-to-knows when visiting this spectacular festival.
Is Notting Hill Carnival in London?
Yes, Notting Hill Carnival is in London. The carnival is held in the neighbourhood of Notting Hill and an area of Kensington in London. The route of Notting Hill Carnival main parade covers most of the W10 postcode
What is the Notting Hill Carnival?
Notting Hill Carnival facts – The history of the carnival is tied to Trinidadian human rights activist Claudia Jones, who is credited with planting the seeds for the Notting Hill Carnival.
With a live broadcast on BBC in 1959, she spread the word about a ‘Caribbean Carnival’ taking place in St Pancras Town Hall.
Moving from the Town Hall, the first outdoor festival took place on the streets in 1966. Organised by a social worker and activist, Rhaune Laslett, she created a space that children could enjoy. Not only that, but she also wanted to include local West Indian residents.
The carnival’s goal was to bring the local Caribbean community together. The tradition of the Steelpan procession started with a well-known Trinidadian musician, Russell Henderson, who agreed to play at the 1966 event.
The costumes worn in the parade go back to the emancipation of slavery. The previously enslaved Africans would mimic the masquerade system and gowns worn by enslavers.
This carnival has become a global celebration of Caribbean culture. It represents the resilience and cultural diversity of the Caribbean community. They do this by providing a space for all communities to come together.
For more information about the origin of this UK carnival, check out this article on the Notting Hill Carnival history.
Notting Hill Carnival Limited organises the carnival with support from the Mayor of London.
It also includes other partners such as Samsung, Carnival Manager, Digicel, and others.
They also have venues that support the carnival, like the prolific Abbey Road Studios and Royal Albert Hall.
Where is Notting Hill Carnival 2023?
The streets throughout the area are filled with musicians, visitors, and food vendors.
The route of Notting Hill Celebration typically starts at the Westbourne Grove tube stations and weaves through W10 past Westbourne Park and Ladbroke Grove.
Do You Have To Pay For Notting Hill Carnival?
The best part? Notting Hill Carnival is completely free, so you don’t need to worry about securing Notting Hill Carnival 2023 tickets.
That means you’ll have plenty of chances to use that extra money to indulge in all the tasty treats and drinks. Be sure to bring your debit/card card as some stalls don’t take cash.
You don’t need Notting Hill Carnival tickets for the main event, but you will need to pay if you’d like to attend the epic after-party.
When is Notting Hill Carnival 2023?
The Notting Hill Carnival 2023 is expected to take place on the last weekend of August. This year, Notting Hill Carnival dates are August 27-28, 2023 – over the Summer bank holiday, with Monday being a public holiday.
Is Notting Hill Carnival on this year?
Yes, Notting Hill Carnival is on for 2023. After being postponed in 2020-2021, it came back with a bang in 2022, and the community is rejoicing as London’s biggest street party is back on and “we ready for de road”!
Is Notting Hill Carnival 3 days?
Yes, Noting Hill Carnival is 3 days. It starts on Saturday night around 6pm and continues through the bank holiday on Monday. The 3-day event includes 5 components: masquerade, steel pan bands, calypso, soca, and sound systems.
The current expected turnout at the Notting Hill Carnival is approximately 50,000 participants in the procession alone and at least 30 sound systems.
Notting Hill London Carnival Schedule 2023
Notting Hill Carnival times is at 6pm on Saturday 27 August and ends at 8pm on the bank holiday, Monday 2 August.
Here is the full Notting Hill Carnival Schedule 2023 lineup:
|Saturday||Notting Hill Carnival Saturday|
UK National Panorama Steel bands – 6pm to 11pm Competition Steelpan extravaganza the night before Carnival – Emslie Horniman’s Pleasance Park, Kensal Road, W10 3DH.
|Sunday||Notting Hill Carnival Sunday|
J’Ouvert – 6am to 9am The traditional celebration before the formal start of Carnival – Starts at Sainsbury’s, Canal Way, Ladbroke Grove, W10 5AA.
Opening Ceremony – 10am to 10.30am Judging Zone, Great Western Road.
Notting Hill Carnival Children’s Day Parade – 9am to 5pm – Main event of the day – Parade Route. (Carnival Sunday Family Fun Day)
Adults ‘Dutty Mas’ – 10.30am to 8.30pm Extended J’Ouvert theme (see above) – Parade Route.
|Monday||Notting Hill Carnival Monday|
Notting Hill Carnival Adults Day Parade – 10.30am to 8.30pm – Parade Route Sunday and Monday Static Sound Systems 12pm to 7pm Judging Point Closes 8.30pm – Great Western Road / Westbourne Park Road Street.
Trading 10am to 8pm (K&C) 10am to 7pm (Westminster).
The official Caribbean-UK carnival dates in 2023 start on a Sunday. However, the UK National Panorama Steel band Competition is hosted on Saturday evenings.
Sunday is considered the ‘family day’ of the carnival, but children are welcome for the entire weekend.
It opens with the Jouvert (“opening day”), a traditional procession where individuals cover themselves in mud or paint.
On Monday, the grand finale Notting Hill parade takes place, and you’ll spot hundreds of dancers, street performers, and musicians.
What Time Does the Notting Hill Carnival Start?
The National Panorama Steel Band Competition on Saturday evening starts at 6pm.
The Family Day procession starts at 6am and finishes around 9am with steel bands and African drummers parading through the streets.
The parade aimed at children starts at 9am on Sunday morning. The massive carnival finale parade starts on Monday at 9am with a long day of dancing, music, and food ahead.
What Time Does the London Notting Hill Carnival Finish?
The Steel band competition finishes around midnight , giving you just enough time to catch some sleep before the activities of Sunday start.
Sunday’s family day ends at 7pm, but that doesn’t mean that the party ends there. There are a number of unofficial after-parties on Sunday around London to keep the party going.
The grand finale parade will also finish at 7pm. Once it’s finished, the official after-party will begin and take place until the early hours of the morning.
Best Day To Visit Notting Hill Carnival in London
The Monday bank holiday is the best day to visit, with the grand finale parade taking place.
This is for the true carnival lover (and people with strong knees and lots of energy), with over 60 bands weaving their way through the streets of Notting Hill.
Let’s not forget about all the floats and thousands of performers snaking their way through West London.
What Day Is Family Gay At Notting Hill Carnival? | Notting Hill Carnival Family Day
For 2023, the family day at Notting Hill Carnival family day is on Sunday 27th August 2023.
Sunday is family day at Notting Hill Carnival, this is where everyone brings their kids to watch the children’s parade. This is the best day if you want to go with your family and enjoy the atmosphere in the more toned-down version of the carnival before the wonderful craziness on Monday.
However, children are more than welcome to enjoy the Notting Hill Carnival on Monday too.
Sound Systems Notting Hill Carnival
These aren’t the typical sound systems that spring to mind when someone mentions them.
They were a basic version of the PA sound systems seen in America in the ‘40s and ’50s.
Consisting of a turntable, home-built amp, and preamp, along with the biggest speakers that they could find mounted into homemade wardrobe-size speaker cabinets.
These systems are something more than just for playing music. It is a method for Londoners to maintain a cultural connection to their roots.
When it comes to the sound systems at the carnival, not much has changed, with the systems still being built in massive cabinets with as many speakers as possible. Think ‘Back to the Future’ with Marty standing in front of a wall of speakers.
That is what a sound system at the Notting Hill Carnival looks like. And I love it, I grew up with these kinds of systems, and you can feel the music in your bones.
These systems have been a part of the carnival since its early days, being officially invited to join the carnival as a discipline in 1973.
The various sound systems and their owners have developed a loyal and almost cult-like following over the years.
With every system playing different genres of music, each has become a specialist in its own way.
What is the Route for the Notting Hill Parade?
The Notting Hill Carnival route map takes the same course every year and leads you on a tour of West London through several neighbourhoods.
As you can see from this map of the Notting Hill Carnival, the parade starts and ends at Canal Way, Ladbroke Grove W14. The route takes you onto Kensal Road before taking a left onto Elkstone Road.
Next, take a turn down Great Western Road along Westbourne Park Road before turning right onto Chepstow Road.
It goes right again onto Westbourne Grove before finishing at Ladbroke Gardens.
Notting Hill Carnival Map
The Notting Hill Carnival app also offers up-to-date information, including toilet and first-aid station locations, as well as event sites and a Notting Hill map.
How Long Is The Notting Hill Carnival Route?
The route for this year’s celebration will be the same as in previous years. The 3.5-mile course begins on Great Western Road and heads south past Westbourne Park.
Timing is key, so make sure that you go to Notting Hill early to grab a spot for yourself. The best views are near the judge’s platform. But the best place to be is in one of the ‘mas bands,’ if you can.
There are a few ways of getting to the carnival, but public transport is your best option when it comes to arriving and leaving.
Directions to Notting Hill Carnival (By Bus)
Extra buses are normally added on during the carnival weekend, but these are also diverted away from the carnival route.
Bus routes affected by Notting Hill carnival – 2, 7, 16, 18, 23, 27, 28, 31, 36, 46, 52, 70, 94, 98, 148, 205, 220, 228, 295, 316, 328, 332, 414, 452 N7, N16, N18, N28, N31, N98, N205, N207.
Tip: Make sure to check the Transport for London website to plan your journey.
Parking Near Notting Hill Carnival
There are many Notting Hill Carnival road closures that happen during the festival, meaning almost no parking is available.
Driving in is not the best option, especially given the already small number of free parking available in London.
Residents of Notting Hill sometimes have signs up on how much they charge for parking, but you didn’t hear that from me.
When it comes to railway travel, there are a number of Notting Hill carnival tube stations that will either be exit access only, closed early or entirely during the carnival.
Some of the Notting Hill carnival tube station closures include Ladbroke Grove and Latimer Road, which closes at 23:30.
What is the Best Tube Station for Notting Hill Carnival?
For safety reasons, some stations may close temporarily to prevent overcrowding. It may be worthwhile walking part of your journey or seeking an alternative route.
- Ladbroke Grove – Station closed. Latimer Road – Closes at 11:30pm but may temporarily close for short periods of time to manage congestion.
- Notting Hill Gate – 11am to 7pm exit only. District/Circle lines will not stop. No interchange between the Central line and District and Circle lines all day. May temporarily close for short periods of time to manage congestion.
- Westbourne Park – exit only 11am to 6pm. Closes at 11:30pm. During peak times the station can become exceptionally busy, so it may be easier to use other stations.
- Holland Park – Closes at 3pm. Royal Oak – Exit only 11am to 6pm. Closes at 6pm.
Open as usual
- Bayswater – Advisable to disembark here if you’re travelling on the Circle or District lines between 11am and 7pm as trains will not stop at Notting Hill Gate.
- Paddington – Advisable instead of Notting Hill Gate or Royal Oak (restricted entry). For the Circle, District and Bakerloo line, Paddington is less crowded than Notting Hill Gate and is a short walk (15 minutes) from the Carnival route. For the Hammersmith & City line, Paddington is less crowded than Royal Oak or Westbourne Park.
- High Street Kensington
- Kensal Green
- Queen’s Park
- Shepherd’s Bush (Central line)*
*(Busier than usual mid-afternoon until early evening)
London Overground Nearest stations
- Queen’s Park
- Kensal Rise
- Kensal Green
- Shepherd’s Bush
Monday 29 August – A Saturday timetable will run on Bank Holiday Monday.
What To Wear to Notting Hill Carnival
Now there is no need to go out and get yourself a mardi gras costume; leave that to the performers and dancers.
Wear comfortable clothes that are breathable, especially if that heat does come in. You will need it with the crowds around you as well.
Wear clothes that you don’t mind getting a few drinks poured on from bumping into others, and this goes for your shoes as well.
Make sure that they are comfortable shoes to walk in for hours at a time but wouldn’t shed a tear if they were destroyed from a few spilled drinks.
But just because you aren’t throwing on all the sequins and feathers doesn’t mean that you can’t get into the spirit of the carnival.
Wear bright clothes and put on some body glitter, face paint, neon lycra, booty shorts – the shortest ones you can find, cycling shorts, crop tops, or whatever makes you feel sexy.
This carnival is all about celebration, expression, and being creative, so the brighter and louder you dress, the better. You’ll feel right at home.
Best Apartments & Hotels Near Notting Hill Carnival London
If you have the chance, the best play to stay would be in the Notting Hill area itself. Be prepared to pay extra as the prices for hotels near the Notting Hill Carnival will be inflated because of the event.
If you can afford it and want to be immersed in the carnival vibe, then this apartment for you and a few friends is your best option. It’s situated in the heart of West London.
If that isn’t an option and you’re on more of a budget, there are cheaper options in the area. One of these apartment suites located in West London for you and a friend might be perfect. I mean, you only really need a bed to sleep in at night anyway, right?
For more accommodation options, check out this guide on the best hotels in West London.
Although it’s a fun and welcoming event, the carnival isn’t without its difficulties. As with any big event, pickpockets are the main issue – keep your valuables close and out of sight. I recommend a cute bum bag. If you run into any issues, inform a police officer.
Unfortunately, with that amount of people, you can’t control them all, especially if alcohol is involved.
There is bound to be an odd fight here and there, but as long as you are aware and vigilant, you will stay out of trouble.
It can be easy to get lost. So if you’re in a group or with family, arrange a meeting point if you do get split up or to meet after you go your different ways to explore all the carnival has to offer.
Also, your phone service will be delayed a lot during the carnival, and you won’t be able to get messages immediately. So, have a plan if you get lost, and don’t panic, have a rum and cold and wait things out next to a sound system.
August in London is normally a warm time of the year so expect hot sunny weather for the festival.
It is London, though, so it’s good to pack a small umbrella or a warm coat in case the weather does take a turn. Packing a reusable water bottle is a good idea to keep you hydrated and avoid dehydration.
Notting Hill Carnival Food – What To Eat
The exotic treats on display are one of the major attractions of the carnival and a chance to immerse yourself in some of the best Caribbean cuisines.
Traditionally, the emphasis is on a wide variety of Caribbean food, with the Jamaican jerk chicken being a firm favourite.
There will always be a number of stalls selling it, each with its own different taste based on the way they season and sauce the meat.
Jerk chicken isn’t meant to be spicy, but everyone makes it differently, so maybe ask how spicy it is before you buy it if you aren’t sure.
Keep a keen eye out for the doubles, the perfect snack to keep you going. This sandwich comes together with two pieces of fried flatbread.
It’s then filled with channa (curried chickpeas), mango, and a shado beni. Of course, no doubles are complete without a healthy amount of pepper sauce.
With over 300 stalls to choose from, the carnival caters to all. For those who aren’t too fond of spicy food, the carnival also offers food from around the globe.
There are even stalls that offer vegetarian and vegan options for those who have diet preferences.
Notting Hill Festival: Inspiration & Itinerary
Before the parade, it’s time to get yourself into the carnival spirit. Meet up with your friends the day before over a bottomless brunch in East London and plan your route while daydreaming and scheming about what outfits to wear.
The next morning, it is on. After getting your glitter on, meet up with everyone and get into the mood and spirit of the parade.
Head along to some of the sound systems and dance away before taking a break.
Now is the time to refuel and rest in order to prepare yourself for even more dancing. Grab yourself some of the amazing Caribbean food on offer and a beer to quench that thirst while watching the parade of street performers and floats go by.
Tips For Attending Carnivals in London
Before getting carnival ready, here are some things you can consider for your weekend spent soaking up the culture and merry atmosphere.
Tip number 1: Come with people that match your energy. Some people prefer to stroll around the streets and soak up the energy; others choose to be the life of the party. Depending on what you prefer, get yourself a crew with whom you can enjoy all the festivities.
Tip number 2: It is highly recommended to bring a handheld fan to this event. August in England is generally wonderfully warm, and being at a crowded carnival means you’ll be building up a sweat. Don’t forget to bring your travel camera either!
Tip number 3: Don’t spend all your time in one place. Spend the weekend venturing down side streets and stopping at stages with different sound systems and live music performances.
Where are the toilets along Notting Carnival parade route?
Here are some of the streets where you’ll be able to find toilets along the carnival route.
- Stanley Crescent
- Colville Road
- Colville Garden
- Artesian Road
- Elgin Crescent
- East Row
- Middle Road
- Barlby Road
- Adair Road
- Faraday Road
- Bonchurch Road
- St Lawrence Terrace
- Tavistock Crescent
- Aldridge Road Villas
- Leamington Road Villas
- Lancaster Road
- Shrewsbury Road
- All Saints Road
- Power Terrace
- Westbourne Park Road
Where are the first-aid station stations locations along Notting Carnival parade route?
Here are where you’ll be able to find first-aid centres locations along the carnival route.
- Near Norburn Street
- Behind Westbourne Park Station
- Lancaster Road
- Near Westbourne Park
- Denbigh Close
This is one of those must-do events if you live or find yourself in London in August. It is a chance to celebrate a culture and experience a place where Caribbean culture comes together to remember its heritage and showcase it to the world.
Just remember, the carnival is a marathon and not a sprint. Take time to soak up the atmosphere of the Notting Hill Carnival Route by visiting various stages and watching the parades go by.