A Beginners Guide to Notting Hill Carnival

A Beginners Guide to Notting Hill Carnival

Festival lovers unite: Notting Hill Carnival is a colourful, vibrant, immersive, and immensely diverse celebration which occurs at the end of August in London, and which invites visitors from all over the world to join in with the biggest annual street party in the city.

This blog is all about getting to grips with where to stay, how to maximise your premier hotel membership and Premier Club rewards across London hotels without missing a minute of the party, and how to prepare for a weekend of music, colour, and food.

But first, where should you stay during Notting Hill Carnival?

Where to stay during Notting Hill Carnival

Where to stay during Notting Hill Carnival

Often coinciding with the bank holiday at the end of August, Notting Hill Carnival is a notoriously busy weekend in and across London – making it a great time to cash in your Premier hotel membership and stay at one of the city’s top hotels such as the Park Grand London Lancaster Gate, complete with rewards and extras to maximise your experience.

Where possible, our advice is to try and steer clear of transport hubs within Notting Hill itself, preferring instead to travel to the outskirts of the area and walk the rest of the way towards the carnival. Not only will this save you from trying to move through the crowds gathering around tube stations and bus stops during the celebration, but it will let you revel in and enjoy the growing atmosphere as you get nearer.

If you want to combine your Notting Hill carnival experience with other attractions and London must-see locations, the Paddington Court Rooms reward you with access to the train station, to other major family attractions in the city, and to some of the best green spaces and parks that London has to offer.

And if you’d rather stay in the very heart of the festivities, there are a broad selection of hotels and accommodation options which can be booked during and over the festival weekend, however these tend to get booked very far in advance and may be subject to elevated prices during the weekend to maximise the business. Therefore, make sure you research and do book your rooms in advance.

About the Carnival: All you need to know

Notting Hill carnival is a celebration of European culture paired with London’s immense Caribbean presence across the community – with everything from extraordinary parade floats to costumes, dances, live music, and some of the best food and drink from within London and far beyond. The festival was first created in 1966 and, ever since, has given London residents and tourists alike an opportunity and excuse to leave British tradition and culture behind and let themselves experience life in the Caribbean.

Sparked with colour and vibrance, the Caribbean influences which are rife across London really come to life during Notting Hill carnival, with music and flavours taking over most of Notting Hill and cutting the streets of to all but partygoers.

Notting Hill carnival is not ticketed and is completely free to attend.

Making the most of your experience           

The first thing you need to know about the Notting Hill carnival experience is that it runs all weekend on the last weekend of August, and that the big party always falls on Bank Holiday Monday while Sunday is seen as the family day which is better for those visiting with kids.

The official timeline for the day and the route for the parade is often shared in advance, though it is always advised that visitors get there as early as possible on their chosen day as the crowds grow and expand quickly once the sun starts to shine.

Here are a few other tips and pieces of advice to help you make the most of your Notting Hill carnival experience…

  • On Sunday there is a children’s parade which is a great opportunity to immerse children in the atmosphere and give them the spotlight, while also getting the party started for yourself.
  • Costumes are not compulsory however they are actively and heavily encouraged to give everyone a chance to really let their hair down – particularly as 2022 is the first year that the carnival is running since the pandemic and Covid-19 cancellations of the previous two years.
  • After the children’s parade on Sunday morning, there are a multitude of workshops and activities available to children and family groups.
  • Monday is the big day with a series of stages located across the whole of Notting Hill, up to 40 sound systems all playing different music, and over 80 bands joining the official parade through the streets.
  • With funding from Spotify, 2022 is the year that Notting Hill carnival embraces more of an eco-friendly feel with electric vehicles and a commitment to minimising noise pollution on the road.

Notting Hill sees around two million people visiting and getting involved in some capacity every year, and because of this it is advised that you come prepared for long toilet queues, even longer food and drinks queues, and plenty of walking to push your average step count for the week (or month) skywards.

If you plan on attending with children and/or large groups, consider taking your own snacks and drinks to see you through the long queues. As ever with the British weather, it is also worth considering the need for layers and potential waterproofs, and we would always recommend that visitors take both cash and card to cover all bases – though if you forget to bring cash, you can always speak to the concierge at your chosen premier hotel membership accommodation and find out where the nearest cash point is to your hotel.

And finally, enjoy! Notting Hill carnival is a staple in London’s summer calendar and is notorious as the biggest and most exciting street party in the UK – a great memory to take away and share with friends and family for years to come. 

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