It’s been a pretty rainy week so far here in West London…but I have no doubt that the sun will start shining come Sunday, just in time for the 2015 Notting Hill Carnival – right?

As the final week of August rolls around once again, it’s time to start preparing for the Notting Hill Carnival which takes this weekend! As ever, the Sunday (30th August) will be Children’s Day whilst the Main Parade will take place on the Monday (31st August). Of course, eager revellers will descend on the area on both days!

Notting Hill Carnival 2013
On Westbourne Grove

Events on each day will start around 10am, with parades finishing by about 7pm and sound systems stopping their music at 8.30pm. However, there’ll be plenty of after-parties in the area’s many bars, pubs and clubs so you’ll have no problem continuing the party until the early hours.

This year, there will be 38 sound systems pumping out the tunes in the Carnival zone, and of course plenty of the usual stalls selling tasty treats (jerk chicken – of course!) and refreshing drinks.

There’s even an official app to accompany the Carnival this year! By and large, its most useful feature is the map which will help you locate particular sound systems, as well as showing your nearby food and drink stalls (although these are everywhere) and toilets (less everywhere, but certainly no less essential!).

Do remember that the Carnival area will be very busy, as always (an estimated 700,000 people attend over the two days, each year) so take care and be aware that certain points in the Carnival zone can get very crowded indeed. Do also plan your route into (and out of) the zone as most of the Underground stations in and around Notting Hill will either be completely shut, or operating special entry/exit/interchange rules. The Transport for London guide to the Carnival is the best place to check for closures, and is also useful to help you plan alternative routes.

Rain or shine, this year’s Carnival will once again establish a proper party atmosphere to the streets of W10 and W11 – with plenty of elaborate, colourful costumes; exciting parades; top music; excellent parties; a festival mood and much more!

Useful links for the 2015 Notting Hill Carnival

  • Time Out have – as ever – an excellent guide to the Carnival, with plenty of info about the Carnival itself and a full listing of warm-up and after parties. They also look at the history of the Carnival, and there’s even useful tips on what to wear! It’s also worth picking up a copy of the free Time Out magazine (distributed on Tuesdays) if you can.
  • RBKC Council also have a useful guide to the Carnival for local residents (PDF), which details things like road closures, parking restrictions and what happens for the post-Carnival clean-up
  • The Notting Hill Carnival website provides information from the Carnival Enterprises Trust
  • It’s Notting Hill Carnival Time Again Okay, this is our post from last year – but there’s some useful Carnival-going tips on there that are worth a peruse!

2015 Notting Hill Carnival
Sunday 30th & Monday 31st August 2015

Where has the last year gone? I certainly remember last year’s Carnival as if it were yesterday…but yet it’s already Carnival time once again!

That’s right, this Sunday and Monday – 24th and 25th August – Notting Hill’s streets will be packed to the brim with the revellers, soundsystems, jerk chicken stalls, Red Stripe sellers…and the Carnival procession too! And then, of course, once each day is done and dusted, it’s time for the legendary Carnival after-parties to get going…

Notting Hill Carnival 2013
Last year’s Carnival

Time Out, as ever, has a great guide to the Carnival which you can see here – there’s the route map, Carnival tips to help those that have never been and an essential guide to Carnival after-parties…as well as warm-up parties! The print edition of the magazine also has a six-page guide, including a feature on the steel bands of the event, a look at the parade’s colourful costumes and other useful tips that will come in handy to those attending. Given that Time Out’s free, it’s well worth picking up a copy. (Try local newsagents which should still have some lying around.)

VisitLondon also has useful and fun section on the Notting Hill Carnival – including a very useful area map that not only shows the procession route, but also displays helpful Underground information. There’s also more on their Notting Hill Carnival pages, which also include information on Notting Hill and Portobello Road in general.

The Evening Standard has a great line-up of Carnival parties that are taking place over the whole Bank Holiday weekend if you really want to get into the Carnival spirit.

Rinse’s Rough But Sweet Soundsystem

Celebrating twenty years since their first transmission as a pirate radio station on this very August Bank Holiday weekend, Rinse will be hosting a Carnival soundsystem for the very first time. In partnership with London streetwear brand Boxfresh – who themselves are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year – the Rough But Sweet Soundsystem will be on the corner of Hazelwood Crescent and Bosworth Road, W10. Rinse has grown from a small set set of friends sharing tracks inspired them into a radio station that transmits innovative music; the soundsystem will be live on Rinse and is the first of a programme of birthday celebrations that will culminate in Rinse – Late at Tate Britain.

Notting Hill Carnival - Rinse

The Rough But Sweet line-up – featuring everything from grime to basement and bass to soul  – includes Katy B, Chase & Status, Tinashe, Route 94, Skream, Bicep, Becky Hill, Metalheadz, Ms Dynamite, P Money and many, many more – head down (or tune in!) to celebrate with Rinse.

For a sneak preview and to get you in the mood, check out this amazing track by Katy B, who’s released this just in time for Carnival: https://soundcloud.com/katyb/littleredlight

Top Notting Hill Carnival Tips

Don’t bother trying with any of the Underground stations actually in the area – they’ll either be closed, operating a one-way system or insanely over-crowded. Try Bayswater (Circle & District) or Holland Park which aren’t too far a walk away. Many roads (e.g. Westbourne Grove) will be closed, so it’s easy to get around. TFL have a useful page on transport to and from the Carnival.

Yes…Carnival will be crowded. Ridiculously so in some places. (e.g. The junction of Great Western Road and Westbourne Park Road is always something of a major bottleneck.) If you see a massive crush of people – no doubt trying to push past each other in all directions – consider stepping back and trying to find another route around, especially if you get a little nervous with large crowds.

THE SOUNDSYSTEMS ARE LOUD. Don’t stand too close to them, because your ears will be ringing for days on end. I SAID, YOUR EARS WILL BE…oh, forget it.

Everyone and his mate will be selling soft drinks/cans of Red Stripe/bottled water from front steps, street corners etc. They’re fine to buy from! But it’s probably an idea to bring your own water along, at least to start with.

If you want to get the vibe of the Carnival but don’t mind which day you go on, DEFINITELY go to Carnival on Sunday (officially, Children’s Day). It’s a bit less crowded, the soundsystems will still be in full swing, and you can pretty much experience everything. Plus, the kids really are very cute with their amazing costumes!

DON’T drink too much. Please. I’ve seen many a reveller passed out in some doorway by mid-afternoon (!). Yes, it’s a bank holiday. Yes, it’s fun. But then you’ll just be making some nice St John’s Ambulance people tend to a drunken fool. And doorways aren’t exactly comfy!

On a related note…you’ll need the loo at some point, yeah? There are some toilets and urinals set up on site, and you’ll also see local residents offering their own loo facilities (for a charge!). But bear in mind the whole ‘loo situation’ is a bit like a festival.

See you all at Carnival!

We here at The Guide to Notting Hill are very sad to hear that one of the institutions of the Notting Hill nightlife scene – blagclub – is shutting its doors next month after 14 (count ’em!) very full and fun years.


Determined to go out with a bang, blagclub are determined to keep the party going strong until they depart the area, with their very last night on the 20th September. They’re also surely the place to keep the party going after Carnival (which is this coming weekend, in case you’d forgotten!), so make sure you head down for their last ever Carnival celebration in Notting Hill.


Since it opened in 2001, blagclub Notting Hill became something of a pioneer of the intimate, small-club scene, especially at a time when super-clubs where all the rage. Offering up a bespoke service in a funky setting – but without the over-inflated prices of other places – blagclub was home to many a fun night for so many people over the years.

If you’d like to book a table or space for the Carnival weekend or at any time over the next month, please contact the bar directly on 020 7243 0123 or email info@blagclub.com.


To find out more about blagclub’s closing, please see their newsletter, or check out their website for a sneak peek at their recent stylish refurb!

Keep the party going at blagclub Holland Park!

Don’t forget that the Holland Park venue is still very much around and will be keeping the party spirit strong in the future! With that venue also undergoing an exciting refurbishment soon, it will be the place to go to for a lively night out in the local area.

First Floor
68 Notting Hill Gate
W11 3HT

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After a very dreary and incredibly rainy Saturday in London town yesterday, the skies cleared, the sun came out and all was set for the first day of the 2013 Notting Hill Carnival – children’s day! Given that the weather turned out to be so darn nice, it was no surprise that the masses were out in full force in Notting Hill today. Barely a single street within the Carnival zone (and many just outside) was anything less than utterly rammed; space in front of the many soundsystems was entirely filled with many revellers making up their own special dance routines; and queues for jerk chicken and goat curry were round the block. Okay, that’s a slightly exaggeration – but queues to buy cans of Red Stripe at the corner shops did literally stretch around corners. And I’m using literally correctly.

Of course, with all these people in a relatively small bit of London it’s rather obvious that – how do I say this politely? – certain parade-side stretches of road rapidly became a slow-moving crush of people. (The junction of Westbourne Park Road and Great Western Road, for one.) Still, it was all rather good natured (amazing what a rum cocktail in a coconut can do to lift the spirits!). And we always got through the crowds eventually.

We were there for the parade in the mid-afternoon today, watching plenty of mobile sound systems, parade partygoers (who – at some point – had doused themselves in powder paint, and then later chocolate milk that had been given out!) and cute children in some rather elaborate costumes. Westbourne Grove by Ledbury Road ended up being a particularly good viewpoint for us, and in close proximity for the essentials (food and beer).

I do now feel slightly deafened from walking past those soundsystems – how people can stand in front of those massive blocks of speakers for hours at a time is a little mindblowing. (Do I sound old?) And I don’t want to think about all those piles of rubbish left over on the streets (or the state of toilets in private flats that owners had opened up to the public for a charge…).

Check out some photos of today’s Carnival below:

Notting Hill Carnival 2013
On Great Western Road
Notting Hill Carnival 2013
More parade participants
Notting Hill Carnival 2013
That’s *a lot* of people!
Because one speaker just won't do
Because one speaker just won’t do
Notting Hill Carnival 2013
Enjoying the Powis Terrace soundsystem
Notting Hill Carnival 2013
Notting Hill Carnival 2013
Gaz’s Rockin’ Blues
Notting Hill Carnival 2013
On Westbourne Grove
Notting Hill Carnival 2013
Mobile soundsystem
Notting Hill Carnival 2013
Someone’s had a fight with some powder paint!
Notting Hill Carnival 2013
Musical themed costumes
Notting Hill Carnival 2013
More musical themed costumes
Notting Hill Carnival 2013
Cool effect
Notting Hill Carnival 2013
Musical notes
Notting Hill Carnival 2013
Nice jacket
Notting Hill Carnival 2013
Just about enough chicken
Notting Hill Carnival 2013
Jerk chicken and rice ‘n’ peas (ooh, and plaintain)
Notting Hill Carnival 2013
Crowds on Chepstow Road

If you’re heading to the Notting Hill Carnival tomorrow – enjoy!