Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

The Carnival – the second largest street festival in the world (behind Rio, fact fans) – takes place over the Sunday and Monday on the last weekend in August. The Monday of this weekend is always a Bank Holiday (public holiday) in England so everyone can party away to their hearts’ content without skiving off work. (This isn’t why we have a public holiday, but it’s certainly as good a reason as any.)

Notting Hill Carnival

History of The Notting Hill Carnival

The emergence of the Notting Hill Carnival followed from racial tensions that were prevalent in the area in the mid to late 1950s; Britain’s first race riots broke out in Notting Hill in August 1958. The Carnival emerged as a response to them in January 1959 as an indoor event organised by political activist and community leader Claudia Jones – this first event was actually held at St Pancras Town Hall (now Camden Town Hall) on Euston Road.

It was in the mid 1960s that something resembling the Notting Hill Carnival that we know and love today first took place. Another lady, Rhaune Laslett, had organised a children’s street festival in 1966 that would also work to promote cultural unity amongst the run down area’s many ethnic groups – the Afro-Caribbean population and others – and this early edition did see costumes, floats and live music. The parade element suddenly sprung to life when a steel band player named Russ Henderson (who had in fact played at the indoor Carnival in 1959) started a musical march with his band. The first event attracted around 1,000 people. Ms Jones, the organiser of the event in 1959, had unfortunately died in 1964 at the age of only 49 so never saw this first outdoor Carnival.

Through the 1970s, the Carnival grew considerably in popularity – with 150,000 people already attending in 1976 – as well as becoming more Caribbean in flavour. In some years, however, riots and violence often broke out (and often because of its “unofficial nature” as a mass event, which lasted up until 1987) which meant that Carnival often received negative press. These days, the Carnival is (perhaps unfortunately, but certainly understandably) and much more organised and official affair, which means there’s very little trouble (if any), and a general good mood and party atmosphere!

The Notting Hill Carnival Today

As mentioned, these days the Carnival is held over two days – the last Sunday and Monday in August. Sunday is traditionally considered to be the “Family Day” with a children’s parade taking place, whilst the Monday sees the main parade with its wonderfully costumed dancers and bands! The parade route takes in some of the main roads of the area, including Ladbroke Grove, Kensal Road, Great Western Road and Westbourne Grove.

Numerous sound systems and stages are set up by the parade route and in the area providing typically Carribbean music, as well as that more pop-chart orientated! You’ll also find many stalls selling food and drink to help get you in the spirit; many of the local bars and pubs will be open and hosting special themed events.* With around one million people joining in with the fun, it’s a couple of days of ecstatic partying in West London. Just don’t forget your whistle!

*Do also note that some businesses – including bars and pubs – shut up shop for the weekend (sometimes literally, with some places being boarded up). With so many people crammed into such a small area, it can get a little overwhelming for some local businesses. Just bear that in mind!

The 2015 Notting Hill Carnival

This year’s Carnival is on Sunday 30th and Monday 31st August 2015 – can’t wait! Take a look at our blog post on this year’s event for a number of useful links if you’re planning on visiting the carnival.

Notting Hill Carnival
A tonne of useful information on the Carnival, including plenty of great photos
Notting Hill Carnival Pages from the council website


  • Andrew Sutton
    Posted August 23, 2012 at 10:03 am

    In our 12th year, Quickmap issues once again The Unofficial Map Movie for Carnival.
    Please link to us … or request file.
    And if you’d like to have a word with me, please call 070 404 34567.
    kind regards
    Andrew Sutton
    Design Director
    Quickmap Limited
    PO Box 12 London SE5 9PN tel 020 7813 3397
    Quickmap research The hat Factory 65-67 Bute Street Luton LU1 2EY
    Reg Office: 178 Bishopsgate London EC2M 4NJ Company No 3732957
    please check email and attachments for viruses.

    twitter @quickmaps

    Winner London Transport Award 2012
    Highly commended Association of Commuter Transport Award 2010
    Short listed London Transport Award 2010
    Highly commended London Transport

  • Jess
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    For more information on some of the amazing food you can find at Notting Hill Carnival, check out this article –

  • zalone
    Posted August 27, 2013 at 7:06 pm
  • debbie hobbs
    Posted February 12, 2015 at 9:13 am

    please link us to this page its a huge group on facebook with thiusands of old photos of old notting hill

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.