If it is late August, and you are in London staying in hotels near wembley stadium, there is just one place to be and that is Notting Hill Carnival. Over one million people descend on the streets of Notting Hill, Ladbroke Grove and Westborne Park during the two days of Carnival: Sunday 28 and Monday 29 August to enjoy spectacular music, dance and food from early in the morning until late at night.
Wherever you go in the Carnival area, which is just a short car ride from Best Western Palm Hotel Cricklewood, there is something new to see or do. There is no traffic, just thousands of people walking and dancing. You can join in one of the many impromptu parties that appear around the mobile sound systems set up in side streets. There are countless food vendors offering the best of Caribbean food such as jerk chicken, rice and peas as well as street food trucks selling all types of food and drink.
Above all, there are the Carnival parades. It is these attention grabbing parades which have given this carnival its distinctive identity. Notting Hill Carnival was initially set up by immigrants from the Caribbean wanting to demonstrate the beauty and music of their homeland. It quickly became a major success, attracting increasing numbers of people. The costumes became ever more extravagant and dramatic and as time passed, the carnival grew and grew in size. It now includes over 50,000 performers. Taking part in the main procession on Monday are 60 steel bands, plus floats and hundreds of dancers. And that is just one parade – there are other smaller ones on other days such as the Children’s parade. These parades wind their way through the streets dancing and singing. If you want to see the performers at their absolute attention grabbing best, then take up a spot near the Judges Platform.
While the Parades are naturally dominated by the performers, many of whom have been practicing their routines for the past year; anyone can join in the surrounding fun. Dress up in glitter, sequins and fancy dress and party, party party. Hunt out the music that appeals to you as you can find everything from soca to reggae, calypso to garage. It is also a great way to discover what the up and coming trends in music might be as quite often, you can find unusual sounds appearing here for the first time.
Public transport is the best way to get to the Notting Hill Carnival but allow plenty of time. It is not unknown for underground stations to be closed for short periods to deal with the sheer numbers of people trying to use them. Have patience and be prepared to walk and dance for long periods. It is advisable to travelers to pick a well located hotel, like hotels in north London so you can position yourself in easy distance to popular tourist spots you need to go.