For one weekend a year, London’s Notting Hill area attracts roughly one Million visitors for the Notting Hill Carnival, or, simply known as 'Carnival' to the veterans of this internationally renowned event.
The festival sees the unification of Caribbean culture with the UK’s Underground Bass Music scene, and is known as one of the largest street parties in the world, occurring on the 25th and 26th of August this year, for free and open to all the public.
This year Carnival will be living up to its title as Europe’s Largest Arts Festival, and the Caribbean communities of London will be once again putting on the a show of the year, with floats carrying giant sound systems, huge crowds of people dancing and drinking in the streets, DJ booths popping up everywhere out of nowhere, thousands of coconuts and plenty of jerk chicken BBQs, and pubs with their doors and windows wide open blasting out music and the furniture pushed aside to make space for the crowds to dance. The only time of the year in London where the streets can be filled with crowds that are free to drink and sit on curbsides watching colourful, vibrant floats and costumes pass by playing a clash of Hip-Hop, Jungle, Garage, Reggae and Drum & Bass.
Children’s Day, the first day of Carnival, is held on Sunday 25th August, with arts and crafts and many incredible handcrafted costumes. Aimed at families, this day gives you the chance to really explore the areas, find the best spot to watch the parade pass by, the best pubs and shops to nip in and get drinks from and the best spots to watch live music and embrace the Caribbean culture. The Main Parade takes place between 9am and 7pm, completing a huge loop around the main area. Maps will be available from most street stalls, and we'd recommend attending both days, using Sunday as a warm up day, getting to know the area where the best spots are, who’s holding the best house party etc.
The Digital Soundboy Stage at Notting Hill Carnival last year features below, featuring Shy FX, David Rodigan and Redlight.
The following Bank Holiday Monday at Carnival is certainly the louder day! The streets are busier and the entertainment is aimed at over 18s. Anticipate louder music and longer parades, and the sound of steel drums and big name DJs such as David Rodigan and Norman Jay will draw you to the bigger parade on this day with most floats carrying heavy bass music through the streets. On this day there are at least 40 static sound systems with a varying range of DJs playing to crowds out of bars and hand-made DJ booths quickly set up on street corners.
Caribbean cuisine is on offer aplenty! The streets are lined with BBQs and stalls selling jerk chicken, rice and peas, curried goat, deep fried plantains, corn on the cob, mangoes and people drinking from coconuts are everywhere to be seen. The banana fritters are also definitely worth a try!
Big name artists perform annually at Carnival, to name a few;
David Rodigan is arguably one of the biggest names in the Reggae DJ world and will of course be making his annual appearance, dropping a mix of reggae beats and heavy bass, this will definitely be a highlight of the weekend. David Rodigan currates the Fred Perry Sub-Sonic Live gig on Oct 10th in London, featuring Lee "Scratch" Perry. Buy tickets here.
Norman Jay a DJ who was actually born and raised in Notting Hill will be back this year with 'Good Times Sound System' bringing some Soul and Disco to the carnival. He will also be hosting an after party, which is held in a London club named Sway.
Kick off your Carnival weekend on Saturday night at historic venue The Elgin. Featuring mighty London outfit Hempolics Soundsystem, Nottingham's Origin One (joined on this occasion by The K.O.G), and bounce-inducing live reggae outfit Def Digby alongside the Strummerville DJs. The party is free entry and takes place in the historic confines of The Elgin, where Strummer himself once held down a weekly residency with early band The 101ers. More info and book a table here.