One of the biggest events of the year is back this month, with more than one million people taking to west London for Notting Hill Carnival.
It’s the largest street party in Europe, celebrating Caribbean culture with stunning parades, calypso music, steel bands, incredible street parties and some of the best feel-good vibes of the year.
That’s not to mention the great food stalls, the copious amounts of rum and Red Stripe being enjoyed by revellers, with the event counting as one of the most significant weekends on London’s food and drink scene too.
Sunday is the more chilled-out family day, welcoming children to attend and enjoy the parade, while Monday is known as the bigger day for partying.
Whether you’re heading to the carnival for the first time, or you’re returning for another bank holiday blast, here’s everything you need to know about Notting Hill Carnival 2019.
When is the Notting Hill Carnival?
As tradition dictates, Notting Hill Carnival takes place over August bank holiday weekend. This year, the festivities begin bright and early with the J’ouvert celebration at 6am on Sunday August 25, officially ending at 10pm on Monday August 26 – although in reality, things tend to wind down slightly earlier. Noise curfews mean that the music from the static sound systems will finish by 7pm, with the streets cleared of parade floats and vehicles by 8.30pm. If guests feel like keeping the party going, there are plenty of after-parties to keep an eye out for too.
NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL OVER THE YEARS – IN PICTURES
This year’s parade route and map
The route for this year’s parade is the same as it has been in past years. The 3.5 mile route begins on Great Western Road, before heading south past Westbourne Park. The parade then takes a right down Westbourne Grove, down through Ladbroke Gardens, before turning north up Ladbroke Grove. The parade then comes to a close at the top end of Ladbroke Grove, close to Kensal Green Cemetery.
Check it out on the map below. The red line is the parade route, the blue note symbols are sound systems and the black microphone symbols are live stages.
Programme and schedule
While the carnival doesn’t really get started until Sunday, people can enjoy the UK’s biggest steel band music competition, the Panorama, on Saturday evening. The event is taking place between 6pm and 11pm at Emslie Horniman Pleasance Park. Tickets must be bought for the event, with passes costing £10 for adults.
Sunday is family day, with a host of child-friendly activities taking place. Things kick off with J’ouvert – a traditional Caribbean carnival opening event, which sees participants walk through the streets covered in colour pigment and mud. The event takes place between 6am and 9am. Sunday’s opening parade then takes place from 10.30am. Young performers will take the street for the Children’s Parade later on, with family workshops taking place at Emslie Horniman Pleasance Park.
The park is also the place to find the Red Bull Sound System, which welcomes performers such as Spice, Yxng Bane and Sneakbo to headline.
The Notting Hill Grand Finale Parade marks the biggest celebration of the weekend, and takes place from midday on Monday. It’s the perfect time to soak up the atmosphere, with a whopping 37 sound systems placed around the parade route, entertaining crowds with reggae, calypso and dub DJ sets.
Silence for Grenfell
Organisers of the festival are marking two years since the Grenfell Tower tragedy by beginning 72 seconds of silence at 3pm on both days – remembering the lives of the 72 victims.
London weather forecast for bank holiday weekend
The early weather forecasts for the weekend are very good, with prolonged sunny spells and highs of 30°C predicted on Monday.
The best way to travel to this year’s carnival is by train. The nearest tube stations which won’t be affected by closures and disruption are High Street Kensington, Queen’s Park and Shepherd’s Bush. Bayswater and Paddington will also be open as usual. Bear in mind when travelling home that some of the stations may be exit-only.
There are set to be heavy road closures over the weekend due to the event, and guests are advised against travelling by car. Extra buses will be operating on express routes 2X and 36X, running from the carnival site to south London. Do bear in mind that some bus routes will be diverted due to road closures. Check TFL’s website for more details.