Carnival Dates 2015: Sunday 30th and Monday 31st August 2015
Each year the Notting Hill Carnival takes a place on the Sunday and Monday of the UK August Bank Holiday, bringing millions of visitors to the streets of West London. Emulating the exuberance of the massive street carnivals of South America, the Notting Hill Carnival is a multi-cultural street festival featuring stunningly decorated floats, live bands and costume parades.
One of Europe’s most exciting annual street festivals, the Notting Hill Carnival is second only to Rio de Janeiro. It has grown from a small local Caribbean community celebration in 1965, to the major tourist attraction and media event it is today.
The Notting Hill Carnival build up generally begins on the Saturday afternoon, with the steel band competition. Sunday is the children’s carnival, with prizes and lots of kids’ events. The main parade event takes place on the Bank Holiday Monday. This parade is the climax of the Notting Hill Carnival and is a truly spectacular show of colour, dance and music. The atmosphere is electric.
The crowds gather on the main parade route very early in the day and the side streets leading off the main route become packed with locals and visitors eager to sample delicacies from the mainly African-Caribbean food stalls – including jerk chicken and curried goat.
The parade route varies from year to year but generally begins on Great Western Road and proceeds along Chepstow Road, Westbourne Grove and Ladbroke Grove. After the floats leave in the evening, the parties continue well into the night.
The Notting Hill Carnival parade is the result of months and months of preparation – in some cases almost a full year can go into making the costumes and the floats. Not to mention preparing the dance routines, the music and the choreography.
Traditionally, the bands were steel bands but over the years, carnival music has come to include all types of world music. In addition to steel pan, you can expect to hear calypso, soca and samba.
The Notting Hill Carnival experience is unforgettable and many visitors return year after year for an update on costume fashion and new styles of music and dance.
Portobello Market opening hours - the market will be open on Saturday 24th August as usual but not all shops will be open as some board up their windows along the Carnival route in preparation for Sunday and Monday's Carnival procession. If you're travelling to visit a particular shop it's advisable to call them in advance - to avoid disappointment.