I went to Notting Hill Carnival with my dad

Notting Hill Carnival

After 15 years, I finally managed to make it back to Notting Hill Carnival. The first time I attended the largest and most notorious street festival in the UK, I was only 5, and have been told many times about my complaints of it being “too loud”. For one reason or another it’s taken me a decade and a half to get back, but I am extremely glad that I did. Notting Hill lasted for 3 days, from Saturday morning to Monday evening. During this time period over a million people are estimated to have passed through the event at some point, even though it was absolutely lashing it down.

My personal experience started as most people from outside London’s do; getting off the train at London Victoria. You are always going to see the odd person dotted around who is definitely going to be attending, but the party really starts when you hit the tubes. One second it’s calm, the next a tumultuous wave of sound appears out of nowhere as whistles, air horns and whatever else people have brought a long chime together as one.

Despite the torrential downpours and the 3 days of illness that have followed, I would still say that Monday’s carnival experience was a success. I would be lying if I said I knew who everyone we saw performing was, but I know that not one system was disappointing. I’ve listed probably my three favourite parts below.


On the way up I was being told over and over about the mad arrangement of old school lovers rock and roots that I was going to hear. It was quite the opposite in fact. From the variety of stages we saw, I heard everything from jungle to dancehall and back right around to garage. Truth be told I wasn’t expecting this but it was an enjoyable surprise none the less. We still managed to spend at least an hour chasing one particular float smashing out an endless selection of soca tracks, which was just great.

Rain? What Rain?

As we weaved our way through the floats marching through the main road we noticed that nobody who was in attendance gave the slightest bit of attention to the ongoing flooding from above. I even spent a few minutes talking to a short man dressed as a pineapple who said simply “At least I’ll end up growing a bit bigger”. This is the attitude that fuelled the never say die attitude that rippled across every stage.

My dad and his balloon

Basically, you haven’t lived until you have seen your father try a NOS balloon for the first time at the age of 48. All that I can say is we will be taking our own next year – £2.50 a pop!

It’s safe to say that the rain didn’t ruin anyone’s Carnival at all, although I will definitely be heading up again next year fully prepared for the weather. I don’t want to be returning to Brighton equipped with a new set of gills.

Image Credit: Notting Hill Carnival

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