It’s Europe’s largest street festival, and it’s in our backyard. Literally. The Notting Hill Carnival is a celebration of Afro Carribbean culture, replete with jerk chicken, hours long parades, speakers the size of a house, thousands of people, hundreds of police, several helicopters, and day drinking. Lots and lots of day drinking. And then all night drinking.
We were warned that someone gets knifed here every year, but as we were going to have to suffer through hours of noise and trash, we thought we’d check out family day, ie Sunday. The first parade is at 6 am. On Sunday. We skipped that for the 1030 start. We left the house with max in his B is for Bob (Marley) tshirt and in a backpack. Our first taste of the festival – speakers 10 feet tall blasting out calypso, a man ODing and throwing up on himself, and a gang of people trying to prevent two guys from fighting. Awesome. We quickly exited the sketchy area and headed to portobello road and the parade route.
But as parades go, it wasn’t exactly timely.
Happy despite the lack of parade, but sleepy, we headed back home for a nap. Well, the gentlemen napped, I learned how to crochet – kind of.
Around 5, we headed back out, this time with faux-ear protection for Max. The trash was way more, the people way drunk. We got some treats after struggling through the crowds. I chatted with some very drunk ladies who kept touching Max and my belly. Easier just to let it happen. Plus they defended Max from the weird guy in a wolf mask who kept pantomiming eating Max.
Who could eat this cute nugget? Mmmm weird fried bread treat, curry, rice, and cupcake leftovers everywhere!
My crochet handiwork. Carnival is almost like Halloween, but reggae calypso bright colour flower themed. I started crocheting straight lines but got bored. Thank you YouTube! Sadly I only has this weird pumpkin coloured yarn. I had visions of fall or something when I ordered it a few weeks ago.
Below is just some of the police battalions we saw. Police were every block. A remote headquarters was set up in the school near us, and the street by our house is ambulance central.
Literally walls of people.
This hyper lapse video gives you a taste of the sheer number of people. Businesses and houses board up like there’s a hurricane coming… And now I get why. So many people. So much alcohol and, um, other things. Loud loud loud music. It’s like Londoners never get to really let go – I guess drinking at the local pub not wearing scandalously skimpy clothing or a flower headband just isn’t the same.
There were more plain walkers than official parade people! And this all goes on tonight… Probably all night… And then all day tomorrow, a bank holiday. Joy. We won’t be partaking tomorrow.
Overall, for families I’d recommend skipping nap time to see the parade earlier in the day, grabbing lunch, and getting home by 3 at the latest. It got sketchy around 6. Yes the morning’s start was sketchy but overall family friendly. And the food was delicious! Though my tummy was a bit upset. Anyway, next year if we live nearby, I’d visit again in full feather floral headgear… And hopefully have a beer or three.