Notting Hill 2018: 10 Tips for a Fun, Stress-free & Memorable Carnival Experience

Dearly beloved,

On Sunday 26th and Monday 27th August 2018, the Black British masses will flock, yet again, to the streets of West London where they will drink, party and most importantly… whine their waists.

In other words: CARNIVAL IS APPROACHING!!! *Blows whistle*

Notting Hill Carnival is something I look forward to every year, as it’s the one time you really get to see Black Brits come together on such a large scale to celebrate in all their glory. From the colourful costumes, to the sound systems, the floats and the mouth-watering food, Notting Hill Carnival is not to be missed.

The carnival is led by the British Caribbean community and welcomes around 1 million people each year. The carnival has become the largest street festival in Europe, and its popularity shows no sign of slowing down!

Ever since I figured out the perfect carnival formula, I’ve looked forward to it every single year, with each year topping the last. If this will be your first time, or if you’ve never been able to get it quite right, I’ve put together a list of 10 tips to help you have a successful carnival experience – good luck!

Before Carnival

  1. Choose your gang wisely

The level of enjoyment you will experience is predominantly down to whom you go with and the dynamic of your group. Whether you go with just one friend or a gang of 6, make sure you’re with people who are down to have as much unapologetic fun as you. Also, make sure they are happy to stick to the plan but go with the flow where necessary, because that’s all part of the fun! In other words, as the kids say, “positive vibes only!”

  1. Pack sensibly

Bring your essentials. If it’s going to rain, bring a raincoat. If you like to drink on a budget, bring alcohol. If you plan on moving to the gyaldem, bring chewing gum (please). If you plan on using a public toilet, bring sanitiser. If you don’t know how you’re going to get home, bring a portable charger. You know what you need. Don’t pack too many things, but make sure you have the essentials!

  1. Comfort over fashion

By the end of the day you won’t recognise your shoes if you’ve done it right. Don’t stress too much about what you’re going to wear, just make sure you’re comfortable and can party all day long. However, that doesn’t mean be boring. Ladies, paint on your glitter and lads, wear your bright coloured tees!

  1. Decide where you want to go in advance

Close to carnival day, you’ll find lots of maps online, highlighting the carnival route and showing you where all the sound systems are. Download/screenshot this map onto your phone and plan the key places you want to hit in advance. This makes life so much easier because you don’t end up aimlessly walking around in the wrong direction.

  1. Meet your group BEFORE you enter the carnival route

Trying to meet people in carnival never ends well. I remember countless occasions where I ended up spending most of my time trying to find people, instead of actually enjoying where I was. There are so many people around, signal is scarce and finding your friends is like finding a needle in a haystack.

However, if you decide not to take my advice and still try to meet people on the carnival route (more fool you), give yourself a deadline for when you will stop trying to find your friends and accept that it’s simply not going to happen.

At carnival

  1. Don’t miss the floats

You can’t go to carnival without seeing some of the floats, come on.

  1. Find your sweet spot

If you find a spot where the vibes are correct and the music is on point, stay there! Trust me when I say, the worst thing you can do is wander around in search of something better when you’re already somewhere great. You’ll waste lots of time, get tired and most likely never find anywhere better anyway. Stay put and enjoy!

  1. Eat, drink and be merry!

If you don’t eat some Caribbean food and rum punch at carnival, what are you doing?!

  1. Release your inhibitions

Carnival is a judgement-free zone so any insecurity you have or any shyness you normally experience, feel free to leave all of that at home and live your best life.

  1. Lastly, in the famous words of Alison hinds…

Jump an’ let dem see, love an’ unity. One big family, togetherness!