Never been to Notting Hill Carnival? Go every year and need a refresher? If you're heading to Notting Hill Carnival 2019, read on for all you need to know to enjoy the party.
What is Notting Hill Carnival?
Notting Hill Carnival is a huge, free street festival celebrating the Caribbean community. It's Europe's biggest street festival, with loud music, plenty of street food (jerk chicken is a favourite), spectacular costumes and parade processions. It's been taking place since 1966.
When is Notting Hill Carnival 2019?
Notting Hill Carnival takes place on over the August bank holiday weekend. In 2019, this is 24-26 August, although most of the action takes place on Sunday 25 and Monday 26.
Where is Notting Hill Carnival 2019?
Surprisingly, Notting Hill, but it also spills out into the streets of Ladbroke Grove, Westbourne Park, Westbourne Grove and Bayswater. Vast swathes of W10 and W11 are pedestrianised to cope with the sheer numbers of people. Follow the crowds, the music and the street food smells — you'll find it.
How do I get to Notting Hill Carnival 2019?
The basics you need to know are:
- The Central line will be open for the whole weekend for Queensway, Notting Hill Gate and Holland Park, and the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines will be serving Westbourne Park, Ladbroke Grove and Latimer Road. BUT, be aware that these stations (and neighbouring stations) may be closed at any time due to overcrowding.
- If you're coming by bus, be aware that roads around the carnival area will be pedestrianised, meaning that buses are rerouted and may terminate early.
- Whatever route you're taking to carnival, expect it to be a bit of a party in its own right. Drinking alcohol is illegal on public transport, but this isn't particularly enforced when Carnival enters the equation.
Here's a handy map of your travel options from TfL from the 2018 Carnival. We're hoping a 2019 version will be made available soon.
Notting Hill Carnival 2019 schedule
Keep an eye on the official website for the official schedule.
Saturday 24 August
The event begins on Saturday evening with Panorama, a family-friendly event in Emslie Horniman Pleasance Park, near Trellick Tower. You'll need a ticket for this one. This event kicks off Carnival every year — expect live music from steel bands, and an all-round Caribbean atmosphere.
Sunday 25 August
Sunday is family day at Carnival, so it's calmer than Monday — but it still gets very busy. The terrifyingly early Jouvert Carnival in Ladbroke Grove usually begins at 6am (yes, that's 6am), with steel bands and African drummers parading through the streets. Bet the neighbours love that.
The children's parade usually begins about 9am, with younger performers dancing through the streets.
Family workshops usually take place at Emslie Horniman Pleasance Park, along with Caribbean food and drink stalls.
Monday 26 August
On bank holiday Monday, Carnival goes big. 60 bands in spectacular costumes wander through the streets in the main parade. The entertainment on the multiple stages continues from yesterday, and those sound systems are still pumping out huge tunes. Full details of the schedule are available here.
Taking kids to Notting Hill Carnival 2019
As mentioned above, Sunday is family day at Notting Hill Carnival, so if you've got children in tow, Sunday's the day to go. That said, it still gets VERY busy, so keep them close to you at all times. We'd recommend packing snacks, as the food and drink queues can be long — as can toilet queues. Why not get them dressed up to get them in the spirit of things? Glitter, sequins and feathers are all Notting Hill Carnival staples, the more the better — and the bright colours might help you keep track of them a bit easier.
Toilets at Notting Hill Carnival 2019
Toilets are dotted about in the form of portaloos but the queues are loooong. Something to think about before you have that second drink. The rush for toilets usually leads to some enterprising locals charging for entrance to their home, taking advantage of those who've had one too many cans of Red Stripe. It's also worth carrying your own tissue/hand wash options with you.
Food and drink at Notting Hill Carnival 2019
Food and drink stalls are dotted round, focusing mainly on Caribbean food (curried goat, jerk chicken) but other cuisines have crept in too. Again, expect to queue in the main carnival areas — and bring cash.
How do I dodge the crowds?
You're joking, right? This is Europe's biggest street festival with 2 million people attending every year — dodging the crowds isn't an option. If you need to bring a bag, make it a small one (the crowds and noise are a pickpocket's paradise). If you're meeting someone, meet them well outside of the Notting Hill area — once you're in the throng, you've no chance of spotting them.
Other Notting Hill Carnival tips
Bring cash — many of the food and drink stalls only take cash, and local cash points have long queues (or run out of dosh entirely). That said, we've noticed street food stalls generally leaning more towards a card-only stance in the last few months, so make sure you've got that option too. Dress for all weathers — sunshine and showers — and wear comfortable shoes for all the walking.
You won't have much luck with mobile phones — with so many people in such a confined area, the struggle for signal is real. We repeat: do not try and meet up with anyone at carnival itself, it's not worth it.
The official programme of events is great, but don't be a slave to it. Magical moments happen every year at Carnival from the unlikeliest of sources. That might just be a guy with a rickety looking soundsystem in the street, blasting out absolute bangers. It's not worth trekking across the Carnival and missing them if you're having fun right now. The key is to go with the flow.
Also keep an eye out for that elusive Notting Hill Carnival classic moment: Police dancing terribly to reggae. Hits the headlines every single year (although we're praying the Met will up the ante and go for a lip sync battle instead one year).
Notting Hill Carnival 2019 after parties
Plenty of venues all over London host Notting Hill Carnival after parties, most of which take place on Sunday night, before the carnival's even over.
Will there be a silence for the victims of Grenfell?
Yes, a 72-second silence will be held at 3pm on the Sunday and Monday of the Carnival. Each second marks the life of one of the people who lost their life in the nearby tragic Grenfell fire of 2017. More information can be found on this video.
Find out more about Notting Hill Carnival 2019 on the Notting Hill Carnival website.