August bank holiday weekend is time for Europe’s biggest street party. A colourful, vibrant celebration of all things multicultural and especially London’s Afro-Caribbean communities. The streets of the West London neighbourhoods of Notting Hill, Ladbroke Grove and Westbourne Park will be filled with over 30 booming sound systems playing dub, reggae, Latin beats, funk, drum ‘n’ bass and disco.
The main parades are free, and carnival-goers with kids should head there on the first day, known as ‘Children’s Day’ as things will be a lot messier on Monday.
Although you can get quite messy early on, Sunday morning opens with Jouvert – ( “opening of the day” from the French Jour ouvert) – a traditional procession before sunrise (6am-9am), where participants cover themselves in mud. The procession begins and ends at Canal way, Ladbroke Grove W14 next to Sainsbury’s car park.
Sixty bands will perform in Monday’s Grand Finale and there will be a world music stage at Powis Square. Although the parades wrap by 7pm each day there are plenty of official (and unofficial) parties to keep the carnival spirit going through the night. And of course carnival wouldn’t be complete without Caribbean drinks and eats as well as beats. Some local stations may be shut, so check travel info well in advance to avoid disruption.