Notting Hill Carnival: How to guarantee the best carnival experience

Notting Hill Carnival is one of the most eagerly anticipated events in London’s summer agenda, so if you’re staying in serviced accommodation in London over the last weekend in August, you are in for a treat. The carnival is a four-day extravaganza celebrating all things Caribbean – from music to dance, fashion and food.

notting hill carnival

The Notting Hill Carnival is an experience like no other – you’ll find the unlikeliest people coming together, drinking Red Stripe and dancing with strangers on the streets of Notting Hill. However, it can be a chaotic event and there are many things you can do to prepare yourself to have a better time. See our top tips below:

Carry cash – and keep it safe

You’ll want to buy some rum punch or delicious Caribbean street food during the day, but most places will only take cash. With such huge crowds in the area, the local cash points tend to run out of money before the day is done, so it is recommended that you bring some cash in advance.

However, with huge crowds and a chaotic environment, there are plenty of opportunists wandering the streets. To make sure you end the day with all of your valuables, only bring the essentials and carry them in something you can keep in sight and close to your body (like a shoulder strap bag).

Bring tissues and hand sanitizer

The carnival is incredibly well organised and the council provides plenty of portable toilets spread out across the route. However, with such huge crowds it can be difficult to replenish the toiletries. Keep a packet of tissues and some hand sanitizer with you so you don’t get caught out.

Choose the day that suits you

The carnival runs all weekend, and each day has a unique vibe. If you’re a huge party animal looking for the most energetic experience, visit on Monday – this is when the celebrations come to a crescendo with huge finale performances. If you’re put off by the crowds and you’d prefer a quieter experience, visit on Sunday – this is ‘children’s day’, so the celebrations are slightly toned down and much more child friendly.

Ignore the maps

You might be able to get your hands on an official carnival map, but it is unlikely to help you very much. The carnival floats are constantly moving and shifting, so your best bet is to simply follow the flow and head towards whatever catches your attention.

Carry a flag (or something similar)

It can be easy to lose your friends in the hectic carnival crowds, so it’s an excellent idea to bring a few identifying flags to help everybody keep track. Be warned, though – this is a festival filled with extravagant costumes and accessories, so you’ll need something distinctive to avoid blending in with the colourful crowd!

Although the Notting Hill Carnival can be an overwhelming experience, it is also one not to be missed by anybody staying in London during the summer. The tips above will make sure you have the best possible time – so get planning and enjoy the festivities! Visit thesqua.re’s trusted online community for more advice on how to get the most out of a long-term stay in London.

Mayuri Ghosh

Assistant Manager for Content. Can swear by Shakespeare, Love Karaoke.

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