A Guide To Notting Hill Carnival 2023
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A Guide To Notting Hill Carnival 2023

Everything you need to know about Europe's biggest street festival

After a three-year hiatus, Notting Hill Carnival is returning to the streets of London this Bank Holiday Weekend. Here’s our guide to the eclectic three-day bonanza.

What Is Notting Hill Carnival?

Notting Hill Carnival is an annual celebration of London’s rich and vibrant Caribbean culture. The first celebration took place in 1966 after being organised by Notting Hill resident Rhaune Laslett as a way of integrating the diverse local community.

Each year, the festival draws in huge crowds – on average two million revellers hit the streets of West London for the event. Expect colourful parades, floats and street parties, alongside copious amounts of Caribbean food and rum. And, of course, the music: everything from reggae to afro beats to soca, blasting from sound systems throughout the day.

This year, there’s a focus on bringing more female DJs into the event. Linnett Kamala – who became one of the carnival’s first ever female DJs to play at the festival – has partnered with Guinness on a mentoring programme to help young women break into the scene. The programme is called Original Sounds Collective, and will include training, experiences and access to equipment, with mentors including carnival legends Dubplate Pearl and Ella Davidson-Smith.

Notting Hill Carnival

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When Is Notting Hill Carnival?

The Carnival takes place annually over the August Bank Holiday weekend, this year from 26-28 August. On Saturday, things kick off with a warm up from the UK National Panorama Steelband, which runs from 6pm to 11pm. This is then followed with two official Carnival days, with Sunday known as the family day, and Monday seen as the bigger day for party-goers. Festivities will kick off at 10am on Sunday and 12pm on Monday, and sound systems play across both days, with a 7pm noise curfew.

Notting Hill Carnival

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Where Does Notting Hill Carnival Take Place?

Celebrations spread across most of the W10 and W11 postcodes, including Ladbroke Grove and Westbourne Park.

How to get there

Travel is always disrupted over Carnival weekend, so check your route beforehand, and be aware that it’s going to be very busy. The Central Line will be open across the weekend, with local stations including Notting Hill Gate, Queensway and Holland Park, while the Circle and Hammersmith and City lines will be open for Westbourne Park and Latimer Road. Notting Hill Gate will be exit only from 11am to 7pm each day, and Royal Oak and Westbourne Park will be exit only from 11am to 6pm. 

Guests are advised to avoid travelling by car as there will be lots of road closures over the weekend. Roads around Notting Hill are pedestrianised for the event, so you won’t be able to get buses or taxis in the heart of the action. 

The parade route

The main parade begins near Westbourne Grove tube station, heading down Great Western Road, along Chepstow Road and onto Westbourne Grove before travelling down Ladbroke Grove. 

Top Tips

  • Download the Notting Hill Carnival app, which contains all-important information about the many food stalls – including helpful pointers for vegan and vegetarians alongside where to get the best jerk chicken. There are also maps of the parade route, where to find loos, stages, sound systems and places to chill out.
  • Plan ahead. There are often issues with phone signal due to the sheer volume of people in the area, so it’s a good idea to pick a meeting point beforehand in case anyone gets separated from your party.
  • Wear comfortable shoes – you’ll be doing a lot of walking around and dancing.
  • It’s set to be another warm weekend, so make sure you pack some sun cream!

Featured image: Glodi Miessi, Unsplash