August Bank Holiday every year sees the return of the loudest, brightest and biggest street party in Europe. Notting Hill Carnival explodes into action with its signature mix of colour and flare. A celebration of Caribbean culture, expect dub reggae, steel drums, grilled meat and flamboyant outfits. The carnival was originally a demonstration of racial unity. It remains a party to celebrate the diversity of the capital and brings together all different types of people to enjoy the spectacular party atmosphere.
For around fifty years this area in west London has annually hosted this free party which features huge sound systems and a procession with more bells and whistles than you can shake a chicken wing at. There are hundreds of stalls, dozens of performance stages and millions and millions of sequins. We have therefore put together this handy guide of Notting Hill Carnival facts – so you can get a hold on the sheer scale of the party!
• Notting Hill Carnival is the second largest carnival in the world – 11 times bigger than Glastonbury
• There are 10 steel bands
• There are around 40 sound systems offering all sorts of different music from salsa, rock and reggae to dancehall, techno and house
• There are over 70 performing stages
• There are around 15,000 costumes and just as many feather plumes
• The costumes take approximately 1 million man-hours to decorate
• There will be around 30 million sequins in attendance
• The parade route is 3.5 miles long
• There are about 300 food stalls
• Around two million people are expected to attend
• The steel bands partly owe their inclusion to Rhaune Laslett, who put steel bands in her Notting Hill Children’s Neighbourhood Festival in 1964
• Having had a dream about people of different races dancing together in the street, Rhaune Laslett then organised the first proper street party in Notting Hill in 1966
• There was never supposed to be a parade but one year one of the steel bands spontaneously went for a walk
• Five tons of chicken and a staggering 70,000 litres of carrot juice are consumed
If you are planning to attend the carnival please remember that due to the huge numbers of people expected, it can be difficult to get from one place to another and phone reception is also reduced. It is therefore advised that you arrange meeting points with the people that you go with. On both Sunday and Monday the parade begins at 10am. The judging of the floats finishes at 6.30pm, with a noise curfew imposed at 7pm.
Ear protection is recommended for the very young however, Sunday is Children’s Day which will see more family-friendly floats and more manageable crowds. With the cost of seeing live acts rising exponentially, this is a great opportunity to go to a fantastic free festival offering something for everyone.
We hope that this has inspired you to join in the party at this year’s Carnival! If you are planning on staying in the area, we have stunning 3 bedroom, 2 bedroom, and 1 bedroom Notting Hill serviced apartments which are off the main route, but within 15 minutes’ stroll from all the action.