Notting Hill Carnival 2020

The ultimate guide to London’s biggest summer festival

The world’s second-largest street festival is back this summer for an even louder – and more spectacular – experience. The Notting Hill Carnival brings together diverse multicultural communities for a free-for-all party in the capital.


When is Notting Hill Carnival? (The 2020 Dates)

The carnival is held every year on the last week of August.

The dates of Notting Hill Carnival 2020 are Sunday 30th August and Monday 31st August.

The parade starts at around 9 or 10 am on Sunday and on Monday, it will finish at 8.30 pm.

Where is Notting Hill Carnival?

The carnival parades travel through London’s W10 and W11 that consist of Notting Hill, Westbourne Park, Ladbroke Grove, and Kensal Rd. Expect road closures both during the run-up to the event and throughout the street parades.

Carnival Map

Below is our custom map of the Notting Hill Carnival:

Illustrated map of the Notting Hill Carnival area.
Illustrated map of the Notting Hill Carnival area.

The Notting Hill Carnival Line-up

Although the specific line-up for the carnival is not usually announced until the start of the event, here are the main highlights you can expect during the two days:

Sunday, Family day

Although the carnival officially starts on Saturday night with a tropical band competition plus warm-up parties, Sunday is the day that’s particularly catered for families with small children. 

There will be lots of children’s entertainment and a traditional carnival opening performance kicking off from 10 am. To keep the little ones entertained, there will be child-friendly floats and activities to take part in.

This year, the best bands will be in procession early from 10 am as they make their way through the parade route towards the judging point located in the Great Western Rd. The mas or masquerade bands are part of the carnival’s history. The idea derived from Trinidad and is the heart and soul of Notting Hill Carnival.

For visitors and locals alike, this festival is more than just a big street party. There will be community projects for everyone to get involved in. 

Related: things to do in Notting Hill

Some of these projects include designing costumes and masks for the carnival revellers as well as the opportunity to get an insight into the rich Caribbean culture, traditions, and history.

Bank holiday Monday

On Monday, the Grand Finale adult parade, which is the mother of all parades, takes place as a spectacular carnival show between 12 pm and 7 pm. 

This huge street parade consists of live music, street performances, and over 50,000 colourful dancers dressed up in glittery (and revealing) costumes. 

Over 60 bands will be parading the streets in their spectacular costumes and multiple sound stages will be pumping out the liveliest tunes.

The grand parade officially focuses on 4 styles: steel drums, the sounds of Africa and the Caribbean) calypso, and masquerade. But unofficially, the parade brings together over 30 different Jamaican-style and West Indian sound systems with a blend of drum and bass.

The mobile sound systems will take on to the streets with DJs encouraging the crowds of revellers to dance Soca, Calypso, Merengue and Rumba style for an authentic Caribbean vibe.

Since the carnival is going to run all day, you’re bound to feel the hunger pangs sooner or later.

Why not try some traditional Afro-Caribbean food! 

With over 250 food stalls at the carnival, you’ll certainly be spoiled for choice. Expect to find everything from fried plantains, pepperpot, traditional goat stew, breadfruit, and jerk chicken, to Trinidadian Roti and of course, rum punch. The food stalls also cater to vegans and vegetarians.

And don’t miss the hottest Carnival after party

No trip to Notting Hill Carnival is complete without the after-party celebrations. This year, get ready to join the event organisers of Sun Bailante for the craziest DJs and the hottest dance floors on Sunday and Monday night.

Meanwhile, on the south of the river, Pop Brixton will be a great venue for the carnival’s after-party celebrations with a weekend filled with top DJs and an amazing sound system that you’re not likely to forget for a long time.

How to get to Notting Hill Carnival

The most convenient way to get to the carnival is by using public transport, i.e buses and trains. There will be additional buses available with several underground stations within walking distance of the parades.

On Sunday and Monday, buses will depart from Notting Hill Gate and Harrow Road. The closest tube stations to the carnival are Queen’s Park, High Street Kensington, Bayswater, Shepherd’s Bush, and Paddington. 

Note: Travel to and from Notting Hill on Carnival weekend will be restricted and heavily congested. Some of these stations will be exit-only so always check before leaving home.

Since this carnival is the biggest free street event in London, it may be best to check the festival map closer to the date in order to plan your route and find out about any changes beforehand.

What to bring

  • Water bottles
  • Tissues or wet wipes
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • A hat
  • A carnival map
  • Phone

What to wear

Since London’s weather can be unpredictable – even in summer- it’s best to be prepared for the heatwave or rain. Wear comfortable shoes as you’ll be walking for miles through the crowds.

To get into the spirit of the carnival, why not get dressed up in a Caribbean costume and cover yourself with lots of glitter, feathers, and sequins to stand out from the huge crowds of people. 

For the less daring, just wear a bright and summery outfit with flat shoes.

Safety Tips

  • To avoid becoming the victim of pickpockets at the carnival, leave your valuables at home. Only take some money, keys, train or bus tickets, and of course, your phone.
  • With all the road closures and revellers in the streets, you may get separated from your companions. It’s best to meet your friends away from the carnival and arrive there together.

History

The Notting Hill Carnival originated in 1964 as a way for the West Indian community in the UK to celebrate their traditions and culture.

It all began in the summer of 1958 in West London when racial tensions grew in the Afro-Caribbean community. Riots went on for 3 days with over 100 people getting arrested over the bank holiday weekend. 

In 1959, the human rights activist, Claudia Jones (known as “the mother of the Notting Hill Carnival”) who was also a Trinidadian journalist, decided to organise an indoor Caribbean carnival to bring all the communities together. That’s when the concept of the Notting Hill Carnival came about, with numerous indoor events taking place throughout London in 1960. 

In fact, the first-ever Notting Hill Carnival was showcased in Earl’s Court with the most popular steel band musicians performing at the event.

50 years on, the festival still attracts up to 2 million visitors a year from all over the world to the streets of London during the August bank holiday weekend.

This annual celebration, held in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is organized and managed by the people of British West Indian communities and it is a significant happening for the Black British culture in London.

In 2006, the United Kingdom voted to add the Notting Hill Carnival to the famous list of icons of England.

Did you know: Notting Hill Carnival is the second biggest festival in the world, after Brazil’s Rio Carnival, and 11 times bigger than Glastonbury Festival! 

Every year, around 15,000 handmade costumes that have taken 1 million hours to create and decorate are exhibited on the streets of London. The main message behind these elaborate costumes is breaking free from slavery and racism, while the music represents the life left behind by the Caribbean community after the emancipation of the freed African slaves from the Caribbean.

Pictures

FAQs

What is the reason for Notting Hill Carnival?

The Notting Hill Carnival came about after racial tensions grew in the late 1950s. The carnival provided the West Indian community in the UK with a way to celebrate their culture. 

What is Notting Hill Carnival celebrating?

Notting Hill Carnival celebrates ongoing development; Caribbean Culture; artistic talents and creativity; enhancement of community spirit and innovative platforms embracing cultural diversity.

What is Notting Hill Carnival famous for?

Notting Hill Carnival is known for being one of the world’s largest street carnivals. Each year millions of people attend this celebration of Caribbean heritage on the streets of Notting Hill. Celebrations include costume-clad Caribbeans dancing to traditional music, and street vendors selling Caribbean food.

What day and date is Notting Hill Carnival 2020?

Notting Hill Carnival 2020 will take place on Sunday 30th and Monday 31st August 2020. These dates are confirmed.

What time is the Notting Hill Carnival parade?

The parade will start at around 9 am – 10 am on Sunday.

How many days is the Notting Hill Carnival?

The carnival lasts for two days (Sunday and Monday) but there is also a tropical band competition held on Saturday as well as warm-up parties. 

How much are Notting Hill Carnival tickets?

Notting Hill Carnival is free! You don’t have to buy tickets or pay to get in.

What time does Notting Hill Carnival stop?

The carnival will finish on Monday 31st August at 8.30 pm

What station is Notting Hill Carnival?

The closest tube stations to the carnival are as follows: Queen’s Park, High Street Kensington, Bayswater, Shepherd’s Bush, and Paddington. 

How should I dress for Notting Hill Carnival?

To enjoy this carnival, plan on wearing comfortable shoes as you will do a lot of walking through the festive streets. Closed flat shoes are the best. Attendees are encouraged to wear accessories to show their support and love for the Notting Hill Carnival like whistles, crazy styled hats, large jewellery, and whatever suits your fancy.

When was the first Notting Hill Carnival held?

The first official Notting Hill Carnival was held in 1966.

Who owns Notting Hill Carnival?

The Carnival Village Trust (CVT), a registered charity located in the heart of Notting Hill

How many police are Notting Hill Carnival?

Estimated that more than 12,000 police officers will be on the streets for the carnival. 

How many volunteers attend Notting Hill Carnival?

Estimated that around 1,000 volunteers will be helping during the Notting Hill Carnival. 

Accommodation near Notting Hill Carnival 2020

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