Notting Hill Carnival 2014
It's time for Notting Hill Carnival! Since its conception in the 60s, Notting Hill Carnival has grown into the biggest street fests in Europe. It's a huge celebration of the Caribbean culture, and by extension the multiculturalism of London. For those two days, the whole of London becomes one. It's probably one of the best weekends one could have in London. It has its shortcomings. Public transportation will be a royal pain so plan your journey beforehand. Goes without saying that comfortable footwear is a must since not only will you be dancing all day, you will probably have a long walk before you manage to catch a train or a bus. Be prepared to make new friends in case you lose the ones you arrived with - phone signals probably won't be amazing. Bring cash as cashpoints will dry up before you can say Red Stripe. Speaking of Red Stripe - there will be lots of warm lager and not too many toilets. Paying for them might be annoying but it'll make your day much nicer. A personal loo roll can go a long way. But, this is what you get with any festival. It doesn't compare to the wonderful time you'll be having. It's all about great food, even better music and just having a blast. From jerk chicken to Caribbean rum, your belly will sing. As for music, there's the more traditional calypso, soca and reggea. Steel bands will be marching the streets of West London. It melts together with one of the tens of sound systems playing everything from dancehall and dub to funk and house. Sunday is the more family friendly day, but Monday with the parade is a true street party. It is worth going both days if you have it in you - each day will be a different experience. Thousands of signatures in support and an exhausting saga with the council behind them, Channel One Sound System is set to stay. Having stood in the same spot for the past 20 years, it's a carnival classic. First timer or a regular, go there but don't stay forever. Wander further as you're bound to come across excellent music and people, but sometimes it's also best to pick a spot and stick with it - the crowds are massive and if you decide to give up a sweet spot, you could end up regretting it. Actually - you'll have a great time anyway. Time Out has an excellent map with all the sound systems (and toilets!) here
- even if you end up going without a plan, print it out and bring it with you. With the warm-up parties starting tonight, you can keep dancing until Monday evening. Actually, unless an office awaits on Tuesday morning, you can carry on until then. Enjoy!