If you’ve never been to Carnival before, don’t worry: it’s not the monster you’ve heard about. The dominant vibe is friendly, open-hearted and fun.
The visual attraction is the mas (masquerade) – the amazing structures built from glass fibre, steel and wire and covered with fabric in astonishing designs and vibrant colours. In the lively party bands, the daring wear bikinis, beads, feathers and sequins to transform themselves into Amazonian princesses and mythical warriors.
Open your ears to the sheer variety of music. Dominating the Carnival route is soca, the irresistible high-tempo dance music of the Caribbean pumped from vast mobile sound systems. There will be live performers and PAs too. Listen out for the seductive strains of steelpan, zouk, bouyon, even Mauritian sega.
Don’t forget the World Music Stage in Powis Square. On both days it showcases top UK calypso and soca artistes plus overseas guests. It’s the only live music stage at Notting Hill and is the perfect place to enjoy Carnival rhythms away from the crowds.
When you’re ready to eat, don’t limit yourself to jerk chicken; be adventurous. Carnival offers a truly global spread of street food. And dotted around the streets are the static sounds, some almost as old as the carnival itself; others are at the cutting edge of music mixing, creating new genres of music while you listen.
Route Great Western Road, Westbourne Park Rd, Chepstow Rd, Westbourne Grove, Ladbroke Grove
Judging point Great Western Road (access may be restricted)
Time Officially 10am to 8.30pm.
Silence Music will be switched off at 3pm for a one minute’s silence in memory of the Grenfell Tower fire victims and survivors – please respect it.
Music As Sunday
Cost Free to watch; £100 to £400 to participate as a member of a mas band, often including food, drink, goody bag etc.