Notting Hill Carnival 2024 Guide: When, Where And How To Do London's Caribbean Festival

Last Updated 04 July 2024

Notting Hill Carnival 2024 Guide: When, Where And How To Do London's Caribbean Festival

Never been to Notting Hill Carnival? Need a refresher? If you're heading to Carnival 2024, read on for all you need to know to about one of London's (and Europe's) biggest parties.

Notting Hill Carnival 2024: A dancer with her arms outstretched in a red and gold carnival costume
Costumed dancers aplenty at Notting Hill Carnival. Image: Shutterstock

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, and the world's second largest carnival (Rio takes first place) — bringing bangin' beats, lashings of street food (jerk chicken is a solid fave), razzle-dazzle costumes and utterly fabulous parade processions.

It's been taking place since 1966, though it took a break in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid. It returned in 2022 with people thrilled be back out on west London's streets — and more Mas bands and sound systems than ever before. We expect things to be equally as electrifying in 2024.

When is Notting Hill Carnival 2024 and how many days does it last?

Notting Hill Carnival 2024: A dancer in a lilac carnival costume
Expect colourful costumes galore at Notting Hill Carnival 2024. Image: Shutterstock

Notting Hill Carnival takes place over the August bank holiday weekend. Officially, the main action happens on Sunday and Monday (25 and 26 August 2024)— that's when the parade happens — but there is an extra event, the Panorama Steel Band Competition, taking place on Saturday 24 August 2024, acting as a Carnival warm-up event. More details in our Notting Hill Carnival schedule, below.

Where is Notting Hill Carnival 2024? Where does it start and what's the parade route?

Notting Hill Carnival 2024: A street filled with crowds of people
Expect crowds aplenty at Notting Hill Carnival 2024. Image: Shutterstock

Surprisingly, Notting Hill Carnival takes place in Notting Hill — although 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 aromas, and you'll find it alright.

As for the parade route: it's over three miles long, starting near Westbourne Park station, wending down to Westbourne Grove, and back up towards Ladbroke Grove. Thankfully, the official Notting Hill Carnival website has much more information for 2024 than it has in previous years, including this Notting Hill Carnival map.

Is Notting Hill Carnival free?

Yes, attending the carnival, watching the procession, soaking up the vibes and joining in the fun is completely free, no ticket required (with the exception of the Saturday event). That said, there are plenty of food and drink stalls (over 300+!) around, where you can part with your pennies if you so choose.

How do I get to Notting Hill Carnival 2024? What's the nearest tube station?

Notting Hill Carnival 2024: a person in a carnival costume including a feathered hat, outside a tube station during Notting Hill Carnival
Note that certain tube stations may close due to overcrowding during Notting Hill Carnival. Image: iStock/pcruciatti

TfL knows how busy west London gets during Notting Hill Carnival, so usually avoids engineering works and closures on the tube lines people use to get there — hopefully the same will apply for 2024, we'll know closer to the time.

  • The Central line stations of Queensway, Notting Hill Gate and Holland Park, and the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines serving Westbourne Park, Ladbroke Grove and Latimer Road, are all within walking distance of Notting Hill Carnival. 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. Though you didn't hear that from us.

Keep an eye on the TfL website for 2024 updates and last-minute changes closer to the time.

Notting Hill Carnival 2024 schedule

Notting Hill Carnival 2024: a street packed with people, with smoke from street food stalls overhead
Image: iStock/Mike Sheridan

Over 30 booming sound systems playing everything from house to calypso, and 50+ vibrant Mas ('masquerade') bands are usually on the programme, with details of 2024 participants already available. .

Saturday 24 August 2024

The event begins on Saturday evening with the UK National Panorama Steel Band Competition, a family-friendly event in Emslie Horniman Pleasance Park, near Trellick Tower. You'll need a ticket for this one (available soon). This event kicks off Carnival every year — it's the most respected annual steel pan event outside the Caribbean, with six bands each playing a 10-minute piece from memory, no sheet music allowed. Expect live music and an all-round Caribbean atmosphere.

Sunday 25 August 2024 - from 6am (!)

Sunday is family day at Carnival, so it's calmer than Monday — but it still gets very busy. The terrifyingly early J'Ouvert ('opening of the day') Carnival in Ladbroke Grove usually begins around sunrise at 6am (yes, that's 6am), with steel bands and African drummers parading through the streets.

Then the official Carnival opening ceremony takes place at 10am, and children's parade begins at 10.30am, with younger performers dancing through the streets in costumes. There's also the 'Dutty' ('dirty') or 'Fun Mas' parade, when brightly coloured paints and powder are thrown at spectators — accompanied by music, naturally.

Then from 12pm, the sound systems which Notting Hill Carnival is known for take over the streets, with live stages at Emslie Horniman’s Pleasance Park and Powis Square, going on until 7pm.

Monday 26 August 2024 - from midday

Bank holiday Monday is the big one. Bands in spectacular costumes wander through the streets in the main parade, which begins at midday. The entertainment on the multiple stages continues from yesterday, and around 40 sound systems pump out huge tunes all around the area. It's loud, it's proud, and it's mayhem, in the best possible way.

Taking kids to Notting Hill Carnival 2024

Notting Hill Carnival 2024: a young child in a costume and feathered headress at Notting Hill Carnival
Costumes are very much encouraged at Notting Hill Carnival 2024. Image: Shutterstock

As mentioned above, Sunday is family day at Notting Hill Carnival, so if you've got children in tow, this is 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? Glitter (preferably biodegradable), 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 2024

Toilets are dotted about in the form of porta-toilets but the queues are loooong. Something to think about before you have that third 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. This map shows you the locations of toilets.

Food and drink at Notting Hill Carnival 2024

Notting Hill Carnival 2024: a food stall serving curry and roti wraps at Notting Hill Carnival
There are plenty of food stalls, especially Caribbean cuisine, at Notting Hill Carnival 2024. Image: Shutterstock

More than 300 food and drink stalls are dotted around, focusing mainly on Caribbean food (curried goat, jerk chicken, ackee and saltfish) but other cuisines have crept in too, and there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. Again, expect to queue in the main carnival areas — but it's all part of the fun.

How do I dodge the crowds at Notting Hill Carnival?

You're joking, right? This is Europe's biggest street festival with two 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 the Notting Hill area — once you're in the throng, you've little chance of spotting them, and phone coverage can get a bit patchy.

First-timer Notting Hill Carnival tips

Notting Hill Carnival 2024: a woman in a dazzling gold carnival costume
Sequins and feathers galore at Notting Hill Carnival. Image: Shutterstock

Bring cash and cards — in the past, many of the food and drink stalls have only taken cash, and local cash points have long queues (or run out of dosh entirely). That said, with the move towards contactless payments during the pandemic, things may be different this year — but being reliant on mobile signal can be a problem. Having both with you makes sure you're covered.

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 stuck to it. Magical moments happen every year at Carnival from the unlikeliest of sources. That might just be a guy with a rickety looking sound system 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. Go with the flow.

Notting Hill Carnival 2024: two police officers strolling along together during Notting Hill Carnival
It's something of a tradition for police officers to be caught on camera dancing at Notting Hill Carnival. Not these ones, though. Image: Shutterstock

Also keep an eye out for that elusive Notting Hill Carnival classic moment: Police dancing to reggae (sometimes amazingly, sometimes not so much) 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).

Keep up to date on the official Notting Hill Carnival website, and on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Last year, they offered live broadcasts on their social channels, so that's an option for keeping up with the action even if you can't be there in person.

Notting Hill Carnival 2024 after-parties and other events

Plenty of venues all over London host Notting Hill Carnival after parties, and other Carnival-themed events. We'll update this page once 2024 events have been announced.

Find out more about Notting Hill Carnival 2024 on the Notting Hill Carnival website and Carnival Village Trust website.