Notting Hill Carnival – Guide To Navigating Europe’s Largest Street Festival
The World Cup may be over but don’t let that get you down for too long! The sun is still shining, and August is quickly approaching, meaning Notting Hill Carnival is right around the corner.
The second biggest street party in the world, after Rio de Janeiro, will take place over the bank holiday weekend, starting early on Sunday 26th August and finishing late Monday 27th. To help you navigate the festival, we’ve created a map with all tube station accessibilities and running times, as well as sound-system locations and after-parties.
Millions of people in London
The festival is spread throughout west London’s Notting Hill, Westbourne Park and Ladbroke Grove areas, with the parade starting on Great Western Road and coming back around through Ladbroke Grove. The popular festival-style event has gained worldwide recognition through the years, and now attracts approximately 2 million people to the UK capital over the two-day event.
The Sunday, known as ‘J’ouvert’ (or ‘children’s day’) is recommended for families, as the crowds tend to be smaller and kid-friendly floats create a fun and light atmosphere. It is custom for carnival participants on this day to set off early and throw paint on each other during the parade.
Monday, the ‘grand finale’, tends to be busier, with dancers dressed in masquerade and colourful costumes, steel bands playing, food stalls operating, and sound systems filling the packed streets.
Notting Hill Carnival is an annual celebration of African and Caribbean culture and community, and dates back to 1959, when it was created in response to widespread racial attacks, known as the Notting Hill Race Riot. Originally, the carnival attracted around 500 people but has since become the largest street festival in Europe with almost 50,000 performers contributing to the parade.
The carnival has something for everyone, with 37 static sound systems playing music from reggae and dancehall, to drum & bass, and jungle. Plus, there are food stalls serving all manners of Caribbean dishes and other cuisine. In recent years, even police officers in the carnival have become a sensation, with viral videos showing officers dancing and participating in the parade.
We recommend planning ahead if you’re going to the carnival. Closures tend to be common surrounding the event, with buses likely to be diverted and nearby tube stations closed or allowing passengers to exit only. It’s generally advisable to have a plan and know where you are meeting people beforehand as mobile reception can be fairly terrible.
Here’s a list of the closest accessible stations (also see map):
Ladbroke Grove – Closed
Latimer Road – Closes 11.30pm
Holland Park – Exit-only from 7pm
Notting Hill Gate – Exit-only from 11am – 7pm
Westbourne Park – Exit-only from 11am-6pm
Royal Oak – Exit-only from 11am and closes at 6pm
Note that the underground will be operating a Sunday service on Monday with restrictions applicable on both days.