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The Traveller's Magazine
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Europe’s biggest weekend festival takes place in London next week an annual Caribbean-flavoured even since 1966. The borough of Notting Hill explodes in colour, street food, dance and music… it’s  a wild celebration of Caribbean culture! Millions of people crowd the street to party, will you be there?

It is only once a year that this West London neighbourhood fills with steel drum bands, exotic and colourful costumes, pounding calypso music and some of the best food from the Caribbean. More than 50,000 performers participate in the parade and festivities! With more than 2.5 million people expected this year over the whole weekend, it’s good to know what to expect.

The Notting Hill Carnival runs from August 28-30th.

10 tips for the Notting Hill Carnival

  1. Arrive early in the day, before the crowds hit. Once they do, it takes ages to get through the masses of people.
  2. Leave your car at home, there is no hope to drive there or park anywhere nearby. Many residents actually have to move their cars for the duration of the festival. Instead, take public transportation but check ahead since some stations close during the weekend.
  3. If you’re on a budget, bring some food and drinks with you. The carnival prices are high and definitely add up quickly!
  4. Don’t arrange to meet a friend there, it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever be able to find them with so many people.
  5. Only bring what you need. Leave your purse at home and only take the cards and money that you need for the day. Unfortunately with such crowds come stealthy pick pocketers, so keep your belongings close at hand.
    Best Caribbean food in town! (img: cc)
  6. Dancing in the streets with complete strangers is the most liberating experience, so enjoy it!
  7. For less crowds go to the festival on Sunday, it’s kids day. Monday as well tends to be more quiet, giving you a great chance to try all the different Caribbean dishes and visit the artisan stalls.
  8. When it comes time to do your “business” there is a huge downside. The outdoor festival loos tend to be quite dirty with no paper and with long queues. Instead try to find a local resident offering their toilet, for a small price. It’s worth it.
  9. If you want to take photographs it’s much better to bring a disposable cam rather than something digital that you have to take care of. If it’s stolen, lost or broken at the end of the day, it won’t be a huge loss.
  10. Grab a map of the area and plan ahead. If you want to see the parade or check out a specific band then it’s recommended to head there early and grab your spot before the rest of the crowds arrive.

There is plenty of time to grab cheap flights to London for next weekend, guaranteeing you a spot at this year’s carnival! Have you ever been? Tell us about it!

Img: Cristiano Betta / Flickr cc.

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