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Notting Hill Carnival London

notting hill carnival paradeWhen is the Notting Hill Carnival?

Notting Hill Carnival takes place every year on the last August bank holiday weekend.

This year the carnival will take place on 26, 27 and 28 August, 2017.

Where does the carnival take place?

The carnival takes place on the streets of London, around Notting Hill, Ladbroke Grove, Westbourne Grove, Westbourne Park and Kensal Road.

Brief history of the Notting Hill Festival

The annual Notting Hill Carnival has two main claims for fame: it’s thought to be the second largest carnival in the world, after Rio De Janeiro, and the largest street fest in Europe.

The main aim of the carnival is to celebrate the culture and heritage of the West Indian community in London. The celebration dates back to the 1950s, when Notting Hill was not as trendy and well-served as it is today. As a matter of fact the area was much poorer. It was a typical London slum where many people lived on very low salaries in often overcrowded accommodations. The area was predominantly West Indian and violence towards this community was rife, ending in the infamous riots of 1958.

The journalist and activist Claudia Jones, originally from Trinidad, decided to counteract all this violence by throwing a “party” to celebrate the diversity, culture, music and food of the Caribbean. People of all ages were invited to dress up in their traditional costumes, steel bands played and everyone had a good time. On one occasion, in 1964, the steel band players decided to leave the carnival hall and play in the streets, followed by all the party-goers. This was when the street carnival truly began.

Barbecue chicken on a smoking grill

Over the years the number of guests increased and what was once a small street party for the local community turned into a parade. However, it always maintained its fundamental aim of uniting the local community which was still fighting racism, unemployment and unsanitary living conditions.

The Notting Hill carnival is one of the most flamboyant, lively and colourful carnivals in Europe. The parades are endless, dancers calypso with policemen, West Indian music blares out from booming sound systems and the delicious smell of beef jerky oozes from every corner. It is not to be missed!

What’s on and when:

Click here for an extensive guide to the carnival and the carnival programme (

How to get to Notting Hill Carnival?

As more than 1 million people are expected to attend the Carnival over the 3 days, the area will be extremely crowded and some of the surrounding tube stations will be closed or subject to disruption.

Allow extra time to get there and back and check the Transport For London Website ( before setting off to plan your journey.

As the area will be extremely busy:

• Allow yourself extra time to get home.
• Set a meet-up point in case any of your friends get lost. Mobile phone signal will be limited on the day.
• Wear comfortable shoes- avoid heels.
• If sunny, wear sunscreen and bring sunglasses. Carry a brolly just in case or get in the mood by wearing a colourful raincoat.
• Always bring water to hydrate yourself, wet wipes (Caribbean food can be messy) and extra tissues (in case loo roll runs out).

Stay safe:
Notting Hill Carnival is an enjoyable and lively event which, as expected, will attract pickpockets and opportunists. Always keep your valuables securely hidden, be aware of what is going on around you and if you notice anything strange, notify a policeman.

Why don’t you come along with the rest of your new-found friends? It will surely be fun and an experience to remember whilst in London for your English studies at Bloomsbury International.

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