Every summer London hosts its famous Notting Hill Carnival, a massive celebration of Caribbean culture. The Carnival primarily serves as a music festival, but also features delicious food vendors, artwork, and children’s activities. At this point, it attracts visitors from all over the United Kingdom and the rest of the world, even though there are only scheduled events for two days. Most people who make the trek to London want to explore beyond the Carnival anyway though, which is why we’ve put together some suggestions for things to do nearby. By putting a few of these on your list you can enjoy one of the world’s great Caribbean celebrations, but still turn the trip into a more extensive getaway while you’re at it.
Notting Hill is a rather unique neighborhood in London, which is what makes it the perfect venue for the Carnival in the first place. It has diverse cultural roots, some extremely wealth residents, and a lively arts and music scene (not to mention association with the famous romantic comedy named after the neighborhood, starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts). You’ll probably get a feel for what makes the neighborhood special right off the bat as you take in some of the historic and colorful homes located on Portobello and Westbourne Park Roads. It’s a wonderful place to explore aimlessly before or after the Carnival, but as you explore you should be sure to have a drink or meal at one of the lovely cafes, pubs, or restaurants in Notting Hill. One area with perhaps the best concentration of restaurants and cafes is Westbourne Grove. Specifically, if you want authentic British food, be sure to check out Dayelsford. And for dessert, we’d recommend visiting The Hummingbird Bakery and trying one of its famous gourmet cupcakes.
If you’d like to get out of Notting Hill just a little bit, one great summer option in London is to catch a sporting event. While the Premier League isn’t active when the Carnival is held, London is an incredible sports town, which means you’ll have other options. For instance, the Wimbledon Tennis Championships take place annually in July, which means with a bit of planning you can make a visit while you’re in town for the Carnival. This is a great option also given that Wimbledon is really as much a festival of sorts as it is a sporting event. There’s an air of almost intoxicating enjoyment about the tournament. Many fans dress up for matches, and many more take advantage of online betting practices so as to tie themselves to the action. Champagne and tasty treats abound, and if you want to make it a more casual experience, you can watch televised matches from the famous “Henman Hill” on the grounds. Whether you’re in a tailored suit betting on matches or rolling up your sleeves on the hill though, you can’t help but enjoy yourself.
One final recommendation, back in the neighborhood, is to visit the other attraction that makes Notting Hill famous: the Portobello Road Market. This market stretches for two miles, so be sure to allow yourself enough time to explore it all in a leisurely, thorough manner. The best day of the week to go is Saturday, when the street is at its most lively and more local vendors are selling their products. Among those products, you can buy freshly made street food for a quick bite, ingredients to cook where you’re staying or take out on a picnic in one of the city’s parks, or souvenirs. In fact, Portobello is also said to be the largest antique market in the world!
There’s plenty more to do in London if you want to extend your stay for the Notting Hill Carnival. But the above suggestions should help get the ball rolling, particularly for some great summer activity in or around the neighborhood.