Notting Hill Carnival

Notting Hill Carnival, London

The neighborhood of Notting Hill in London is famous worldwide for Portobello Market and, a movie starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts, which resulted in a large number of visitors walking around the area looking for the blue door featured in the movie. But every year since 1966, during August Bank Holiday weekend, Londoners and visitors have been coming to the area to celebrate Notting Hill Carnival.

Colorful houses in Notting Hill

What started as a small gathering, it has now grown to become one of the biggest street party in Europe, attracting over one million people.

One of the performers at Notting Hill Carnival

Sunday is Children’s Day and the main parade is held on the following day: a large area of West London explodes in a celebration with floats, intricately decorated costumes, steel bands and plenty of traditional Caribbean food.

One of the floats at Notting Hill Carnival

A dancer at Notting Hill Carnival

At Notting Hill Carnival parade

Float at Notting Hill carnival

Notting Hill Carnival parade

Colorful costume at Notting Hill Carnival

For the residents of this affluent part of town there are two simple choices: either leave the area while the Carnival is taking place or, join in the fun.

People watching the parade at Notting Hill Carnival

In recent years, it seems most people have chosen the second option; not only they embraced the carnival spirit, but found a way to capitalize on the opportunities offered to cater for the large number of visitors. Huge barbecues are set up in front gardens, together with impromptu refreshments points on door steps, selling drinks (mainly alcoholic ones) to thirsty revelers. They compete with the official street food stalls set up along the route of the parade, where meat (mainly chicken) is cooked and served with traditional Caribbean accompaniments.

Meat on the barbecue in Notting Hill

Jamaican street food stall in Notting Hill

Street food on sale at Notting Hill Carnival

Preparing food at Notting Hill Carnival

To manage such a big crowd, there is always a large police presence, to make sure that everyone attending the Carnival have a pleasant and safe time. Keeping a vigilant eye on the proceedings, it is not unusual for policemen to join in the fun!

Police on patrol at Notting Hill Carnival

Police helmet costume at Notting Hill Carnival

Although there have been some serious incidents in the past, in recent years the event has been largely trouble-free, with pickpockets been one of the main reason why people have their day out at the Carnival spoiled.

The parade at Notting Hill Carnival

Fruits on a headgear at Notting Hill Carnival

Drummers on parade at Notting Hill Carnival

The colorful floats parade on the streets, accompanied by loud music blaring out from sound systems and, dressed up in beautiful costumes, performers make their way along the route dancing along while steel bands play; for two days, especially if the sun is out, this part of London looks like a corner of a Caribbean island…without the sea, the palm trees and the beach but with plenty of people having a good time!

Sound system in Notting Hill

Costume at Notting Hill Carnival

A performer in a red costume at Notting Hill Carnival

Black and orange costume at Notting Hill Carnival

A performer in a swan costume at Notting Hill Carnival

Notting Hill Carnival performer close-up

And, when the last drop of rum has been consumed, the music has been switched off and the streets have been cleared, everyone starts to prepare for next year’s event!

13 thoughts on “Notting Hill Carnival

  1. I’d love to experience Notting Hill Carnaval some time, but on the other hand I’m not so big on crowds and when I go to London, I usually go during the week and off-season so that it’s not too busy (for London standards:-)).

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