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

Now in its 13th year, the annual Notting Hill Mayfest returns to the streets and venues of the area next month, offering a full line-up of exciting events with something for everyone! What started as a small community festival centred around the popular May Fair is now a month-long, multidisciplinary arts festival – with music recitals, film screenings, children’s events, a tea dance, area tours, lunchtime concerts, talks and much more.

2015 Notting Hill Mayfest

One of the best known events of the Mayfest, as mentioned, is the May Fair which will take place at St John’s Notting Hill on Saturday 9th May, 1pm to 5pm. One of Notting Hill’s best loved events, which has taken place annually for over 25 years, the Fair is well known for its traditional village games and stalls, music, Maypole dancing, a fancy dress competition and dog show. A true family event with something for all ages – including a vintage coconut shy, face painting and even a bouncy castle!

On Wednesday 6th May, Dr William Taylor – Vicar of St John’s Notting Hill – will give a big screen presentation of his recent three-month journey along the Silk Road, during which time he travelled light and stayed with monks and hermits. The evening will include music, dance, food and drink inspired by Silk Road. This will also be the launch event for THE SPACE at St John’s, which will showcase the new community, arts and business facilities within the church. More details on THE SPACE and its use can be found at www.stjohnsnottinghill.com/thespace/.

On Friday 15th May, the silent classic Steamboat Bill Jr (1928), starring Buster Keaton, will be projected onto the big screen at St John’s Notting Hill with music accompaniment by the church’s recently restored organ. This follows a screening of the classic film Wings (1927) last year in what was a sell-out show.

Other highlights of the Mayfest include Love Your Local Market tours of Golborne and Portobello Markets (selected dates); the Bach to Baby classical concert for adults, babies and tots (19th May); the Flores de Mayo/Santacruzan Parade, a traditional festival of the Philippines (30th May); and a Tea Dance that will feature a number of different ballroom dancing styles (23rd May). The Mayfest will also see another opportunity to climb the tower at St John’s Notting Hill (16th May) for panoramic views across the area.

There’s of course plenty more happening during Mayfest as well, and many events are free to enter (or very affordable indeed!). The Notting Hill Mayfest also showcases some of the best known venues in the area, including St John’s Notting Hill, St Peter’s Notting Hill, St George’s Campden Hill, The Gate Theatre, and The 20th Century Theatre, and it’s a lovely chance to experience a variety of cultural events at these locations.

For a full line-up of all the events taking place during Mayfest (and to book tickets, where appropriate), please see www.nottinghillmayfest.org.uk.

2015 Notting Hill Mayfest
1st – 30th May 2015
various venues

Following on from a successful and popular autumn series of concerts, ASPECT Foundation for Music and Arts returns to Notting Hill and Kensington in 2015 for a set of events that will take us right up until June. Concerts will feature artists such as Mahan Esfahani, Rachel Podger, The Endellion String Quartet and Ferenc Rados with speakers including Norman Lebrecht, Ruth Padel, Stephen Johnson and Misha Donat. Taking place in the beautiful twin venues of the 20th Century Theatre on Westbourne Grove and Leighton House, close to Kensington High Street, ASPECT’s spring season is sure to deliver a wonderful, entertaining and illuminating series of evenings.

As ever, ASPECT’s concerts present ‘Music in Context’ – that is, each event combines performance, lecture and discussion in such a way that the audience experiences not only a music recital, but also an inspiring and enlightening mix of art history and social culture. Thought-provoking and inspiring, ASPECT’s events are more than just a concert! The 2015 Spring Season will feature concerts on three different themes – Musical Capitals, Words of Music and Composers on Composers.

ASPECT Foundation for Music and Arts Spring 2015 Season

The first event of the year is titled Berlin: The Age of Enlightenment and will take place on Saturday 24th January  at the 20th Century Theatre. Part of their Musical Capitals series, the evening will see Sonata in D major for viola da gamba and harpsichord, Wq. 88 (C.P.E. Bach); Trio Sonata in A minor, QV 2:Anh. 34 (Quantz); Sonata in C major for flute and basso continuo, SpiF 40 (Frederick II (‘the Great’) of Prussia); and Trio Sonata in C minor from The Musical Offering, BWV 1079 (J.S. Bach) performed.

To start the evening, speaker Norman Lebrecht will discuss what it takes to be a musical capital and examine how Berlin now stands as something of a cultural hub, home to ‘the world’s finest orchestra’ and the greatest number of world-class opera houses in one city, as well as a diverse alternative music scene. Following this, award-winning harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani will explore Berlin’s musical origins: from Frederick the Great’s musical consolations, the musicians and great minds he gathered around him, and those he drove away. The evening will also feature Rachel Brown (flute), Madeleine Easton (violin), and Richard Boothby (viola da gamba).

On Wednesday 25th FebruaryBeethoven: Twenty-Five Years of Quartet Making at the 20th Century Theatre will feature one of Beethoven’s earliest string quartets as well as one of his last, both performed by The Endellions. The quartets will frame readings by poet Ruth Padel of new works that meditate on the time and circumstances of their creation.

Monday 2nd March will see Bellini and Chopin: Weeping in Song at Leighton House. Tenor Gyula Rab plus pianists Thomas Harris and Aldemir Tokov perform tonight as prize-winners at the Musical Odyssey international summer masterclasses for pianists and singers; the three were awarded the opportunity to participate in an ASPECT concert because of their outstanding musicality and the evidence they gave of their potential to develop careers in the international music industry. Christie’s Education senior lecturer Patrick Bade will also be giving an illustrated talk.

On Tuesday 31st March at The 20th Century TheatreWinds of Change: Vienna, St Petersburg, Paris sees pianist Vsevolod Dvorkin and clarinettist Alexander Bedenko perform Mozart’s sublime Quintet in E flat major, K452, plus works by Rimsky-Korsakov and Poulenc.

Wanderers: Byron, Liszt and Berlioz will be performed on Saturday 25th April at Leighton House – violinist Iakov Zats and pianist Vsevolod Dvorkin will explore Liszt’s Années de pèlerinage. Première année: Suisse and Harold en Italie by Liszt/Berlioz, with Stephen Johnson providing an illustrated talk.

London: Eighteenth-Century Court and Salon Music will be performed on Wednesday 13th May at 20th Century Theatre. The vibrant theatre, chapel and chamber music of seventeenth and eighteenth century London will be explored with performances from Rachel Podger and Brecon Baroque and a talk by speaker Richard Wigmore.

On 10th June at The 20th Century TheatreSchubert: In the Footsteps of Beethoven will see legendary pianist Ferenc Rados performing with ASPECT for the first time, with Misha Donat providing an illustrative talk.

To round off the spring season, Britten and Shostakovich: A Remarkable Friendship will be performed on Thursday 11th June at the 20th Century Theatre. Shostakovich’s Cello Sonata, Op. 40 and Britten’s Cello Sonata, Op. 65 will be performed by Aleksei Kiseliov and pianist Itamar Golan.

All concerts commence at 7.30pm. Tickets for concerts cost £25, which includes wine and refreshments. Tickets can be purchased by calling the box office on 07799 090826 or by booking online at www.aspectfoundation.net.

ASPECT Foundation for Music and Arts – Spring Season
24th January, 25th February, 2nd March, 31st March,  25th April, 13th May, 10th June and 11th June 2015

The contemporary quartet The Hermes Experiment, winners of the Nonclassical Battle of the Bands 2014 and UK Young Artists 2014, are hosting a Christmas concert at the wonderful St John’s Church in Notting Hill on 16th December 2014.

Titled A Christmas Experiment, the concert will be an alternative take on the traditional carol gathering…but one that doesn’t sacrifice any of the traditional refreshments!

The Hermes Experiment

The dynamic and innovative quartet, made up of harp, soprano, clarinet and double bass, will be joined on the night by Ben Corneau on St John’s wonderful church organ; those of you who have visited the church before will know that the organ recently underwent a complete restoration, and is one of the finest church organs in the whole of London.

The quartet will be performing two exciting new commissions by Graham Ross and Jonathan Woolgar, plus carols arranged by the Hermes Experiment themselves, as well as their take on the classic festive favourite, Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols.

The full programme is as follows:

  • Graham Ross, Away in a Manger (world premiere)
  • Benjamin Britten, A Ceremony of Carols (arr. Millwood)
  • Carols arranged by The Hermes Experiment
  • Jonathan Woolgar, Procession and Chorale for solo organ (world premiere)

Entry is free, and there will be mince pies and mulled wine to accompany the performance.

More details on The Hermes Experience can be found on their website www.thehermesexperiment.com, or on Twitter or Facebook.

A Christmas Experiment
8pm, Tuesday 16th December 2014
St John’s Church
Lansdowne Crescent
W11 2NN