With an expected two million or so attendees, Notting Hill Carnival is Europe’s biggest street festival and a vivid spectacle representing London's multicultural past and present. It's also a vital date in any party lover's diary. But, whatever you do, don’t go anywhere without reading our guide, which includes invaluable information, tips and travel details about Notting Hill Carnival 2017.
What is Notting Hill Carnival?
A free celebration of the capital's Caribbean communities, their culture and traditions, which has been taking place since 1964, featuring two days of fantastic live music ranging from reggae to dub to salsa. This year the celebration includes 37 static soundsystems, soca floats, steel bands and a whole lot of jerk chicken and fried plantain.
Where does Notting Hill Carnival take place?
Spread throughout W10 in west London, the celebrations take over the areas of Notting Hill, Ladbroke Grove and Westbourne Park. The main parade starts on Great Western Road, winding its way along Chepstow Road, then on to Westbourne Grove, and then down Ladbroke Grove.
When does Notting Hill Carnival take place?
Carnival traditionally takes place on the bank holiday weekend at the end of August. This year it's on 27-28 August 2017.
What time does everything kick off?
The parade begins at 9.30am on both Sunday and Monday, judging finishes at 6.30pm; there's a 7pm sharp noise curfew which gives all the floats, trucks and parade bands time to clear the streets by 8.30pm.
Doesn’t it get super crowded?
The short answer is yes. But if you're feeling claustrophobic there are safe zones to escape the main action (marked in yellow on our map). Plan your route with our Carnival google map and remember the earlier you arrive, the less crowded it will be.
Is it safe?
Generally yes, there are always tonnes of police about, (those twerking policeman vids that surface on social media aren't completely unfounded) but it doesn't hurt to take some basic precautions – don't wave your valuables around, or better still, leave them at home. Remember you won't get much phone signal anyway so stick with mates and agree on a meeting point beforehand. Now just relax and let the good times roll.
Should I take kids to Carnival?
Of course, with some careful preparation, lots of people take their kids, particularly on 'Family Day' which is traditionally quieter than the Monday. Arrive early to beat the crowds. Bring travel potties, snacks and water because queues and kids aren't the most compatible combo. Top tip: Write your mobile number on your child’s arm, so they can contact you if you get separated.
Here’s a quick checklist if you're going with kids:1. Go on 'Family Day'. It’s still busy (and noisy) but it’s much more kid-friendly than the main parade on Monday.2. Arrive early. You’ll beat the crowds and can get a good, comfortable spot.3. Bring ear defenders for the little ’uns.4. Plan your travel route beforehand and check which tube stations are closed – see above for travel info.5. Bring travel potties for very young children, as portable toilets at Carnival will have long queues.6. Bring some easily transportable food and water for them in case you can’t buy anything suitable.7. Don’t buy them a vuvuzela unless you want a perforated ear drum!What's the best way to get there?
Take the tube to the outskirts and join the masses in walking towards the parade route. The nearest tube stations without disruptions are Holland Park, High Street Kensington, Queen's Park, Shepherd's Bush, Bayswater and Paddington, (though some are exit-only), while Notting Hill Gate, Royal Oak and Westbourne Park usually have amended operating times.
Tube stations affected by Carnival 2017:
Notting Hill Gate will be exit-only between 11am and 7pm on Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday. Circle and District line trains will not stop at this station between 11am and 7pm on Sunday or anytime on Bank Holiday Monday. Ladbroke Grove is closed on both days. Latimer Road closes at 11.30pm on both days.Westbourne Park will be exit-only between 11am and 6pm on both days and shuts at 11.30pm.Holland Park will be exit-only from 7pm on both days.Royal Oak will be exit-only between 11am and 6pm on both days and will shut at 6pm. Bayswater and Paddington will be open as normal. It is advisable to use these stations as alternatives to stations with restrictions. What about the overground?
Queen’s Park, Kensal Rise, Kensal Green and Shepherd’s Bush will be running a normal timetable as will the majority of the London Overground network on Sunday. A Saturday timetable will run on Bank Holiday Monday.
How about the buses?
While extra services will be in operation on routes 2, 36, 205, 436, 2X, 36X, 205X and 436X, no buses will enter the Carnival area from first thing Sunday morning until the first service on Tuesday morning. Night buses in the area will also be subject to diversions. On both Sunday and Monday, bus services begin from Notting Hill Gate in the south and from the Prince of Wales on Harrow Road (close to Elgin Avenue) in the north. Bus stops within or adjacent to the area will carry displays about diversions or disruptions.
Can I ride my bike?
Some local docking stations will be suspended or removed for Carnival, so don’t count on there being space to dock your Boris bike. Check TfL's page for up to date info: www.tfl.gov.uk/notting-hill-carnival