First Time Guide to Europe’s Biggest Street Festival

Our Rising Star in Journalism, Monifa Bobb-Simon guides us through the Notting Hill Carnival experience.

The countdown until the bank holiday weekend begins! And with just a matter of days to go, all roads lead to Europe’s biggest and most vibrant street party. With over one million attendees each year, we’re calling all you first timers out there to get your dancing shoes on for Notting Hill Carnival!

Notting Hill Carnival

For over 50 years, this annual parade has seen revellers, masqueraders and dancers flood to West London’s electric streets. Bringing you a Caribbean and British mash-up, the festivity celebrates community spirit at the heart of today’s culture.

So what can you expect?

The day kicks off bright and early so plan your journey in advance. With expected tube and road closures, be sure to look up an easy route ahead of time. Whilst in London, keep up to date with London travel on TFL’s website.

1. When you arrive, take to the road and follow a float to explore the whole of the Notting Hill Carnival. It’s a great way to spot all the bands. If you’re more interested in dancing the day away, follow huge sound system trucks. They will be blazing out everything from funky house, drum and bass, to soca and calypso music. This festival has got all your musical tastes covered!

Notting Hill Carnival

2. Why not check out the performances? With a ton of acts heading your way, you can look up who’s playing, what time and where on the Notting Hill Carnival website. That’s right, get amped and catch some of the UK’s favourite acts live in action.

3. Just eat and drink! There are hundreds of stalls to choose from so taste the flavours of the West Indies. Whether its jerk chicken you fancy or maybe some curry goat, Caribbean cuisine is guaranteed on the menu. For the veggie and vegan eaters, you’re all sorted with a number of dishes to choose from too. Food for everyone!

Knock back some traditional carnival drinks. From ice cool rum punch beverages to freshly cut coconuts, sliced and ready to go. There’s a load on offer, with booze trucks on hand to give you that added kick! (Beware, however, the toilet facilities are few and far between! And with over one million people due to attend, the toilets you do find will not be for the faint-hearted!)

Notting Hill Carnival

4. Keep your eyes peeled because with over one million people in attendance if you look hard enough, you are bound to find a cheeky celeb up to no good!

By all means, explore the carnival but it’s important to stay safe. Getting lost in a sea of people is never any fun. With little phone reception, arrange a designated meeting point if you get separated from your friends.

Notting Hill Carnival

Model, Jordan Dunn attending Carnival

5. Lastly, in memory of those that passed away due to the Grenfell Tower disaster, revellers have decided to wear all green. You may want to join in!

Notting Hill Carnival

If you’re experiencing the carnival for the first ever time, use the hashtag #New2NottingHill. Find and connect with other partygoers enjoying the bank holiday weekend festivities.

We’d love for you to share your experience with us on social media! Find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and tell us what you think. (You may even spot a few Big Music staff there too!)

Notting Hill Carnival

If you are wondering how attending festivals and carnivals can benefit your music career, you need to check this out!