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Top 10 tips for Notting Hill Carnival

Find out everything you need to know about the biggest street carnival in Europe.
A Notting Hill Carnival performer dances surrounded by red confetti.
A performer dances at Notting Hill Carnival. Image courtesy of iStock. Photo credits: Natasha108.

1. Plan ahead for Notting Hill Carnival

During Notting Hill Carnival, some Underground stations are temporarily shut to avoid congestion. Plan your journey to and from the carnival in advance using Transport for London's Journey Planner. You'll also want to avoid driving to the celebrations.

2. Ditch the heels

You'll be on your feet all day, so comfort is key. Think closed-toe flats and sturdy shoes to make the most of the festivities. But don't forget: it is carnival! Wear your most colourful clothes and bring out all the accessories, including flags, whistles and hats.

3. Pack your carnival essentials

Tissues in case the portaloo has run out? Check. A bottle of water to hydrate after dancing? Check. A carnival route map to avoid closed roads? Check. Sunscreen and sunglasses for the suitably Caribbean-style sunshine? Check. Stress-free carnival: sorted.

4. Take the kids

Let the little ones join in the fun during the annual Children's Day on Sunday. Arrive early to see the children's groups parade and take part in family-friendly activities – it's quieter and more relaxed than Monday. If possible, leave the pram at home, but do have enough adults to carry each toddler through the crowds if they get tired. You might also want to bring earplugs for children.

5. Meet in advance

Finding people at the carnival can be tricky with road closures and streets full of revellers. Try to meet your friends elsewhere and travel in together – and take your mobile phones, as you may get separated in the crowd or find yourself swept into the parade!

6. Find a good spot

If you want to get good snaps of the parade and feel part of the action, location is everything. Stand by the judges' platform and you'll see the groups really pull out all the stops, but for a more informal vibe, secure a front-row spot along the main route. There are always plenty of lively sections and quieter places, so it is possible to find the right one for you.

7. Eat Caribbean treats

You're never far from the delicious smells of a smoking barbecue during the Notting Hill Carnival. Jerk chicken and rice is the dish of the day, alongside other favourites such as goat curry, ackee and salt fish, vegetarian patties and corn on the cob.

8. Experience the sound systems

You'll find a whole other side to the carnival with sound systems down the side streets. Blasting out reggae, groove, house, samba and more, these pop-up parties each have their own vibe. Do your research and arrive early as some sound systems are so popular, there's crowd control. You'll also find a line-up of live music stages over the August bank holiday weekend.

9. Stay safe at Notting Hill Carnival in London

Notting Hill Carnival is a lively, fun and welcoming festival, but (like with any huge event) staying aware and alert is important. Avoid pickpockets by keeping your valuables out of sight and out of easy reach. If you can, steer clear of congested streets or wait until the blockage has cleared. If you have any worries, inform a police officer – you're never far from one at the carnival.

10. Join the Notting Hill Carnival after-party fun

Continue the festivities at one of the many carnival after-parties in the area and across London. Find full event details for Notting Hill Carnival.

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