Notting Hill Carnival 2012
The Notting Hill Carnival 2012 is sure to introduce some colour and culture to the capital this summer. The event - known simply as 'Carnival' by locals - continues to be a celebration of multi-ethnic London. For some years now it has attracted an international mix of guests to London hotels at the end of August, all attracted by the chance to experience the largest street festival in Europe.
The Notting Hill Carnival will take place on the 26th and 27th August 2012, and has been held every year on the summer bank holiday weekend since 1966. Over the years, the event has grown from being a local celebration of West Indian culture to a full-on Caribbean Carnival - complete with a colourful street procession - and is now reckoned to be second in size only to Rio Carnival, in Brazil.
While the main procession takes place on bank holiday Monday, the carnival actually kicks off on Saturday, with a steel band competition. Sunday is 'Kid's Day', and the day that the costume prizes are awarded, offering a chance to see some of the magnificent outfits that will feature in Monday's 20 mile long street procession.
Aside from the magnificent floats and costumes that will feature in the main parade, the two biggest attractions of the carnival are the music and the food. While the parade itself is marked by the signature sounds of traditional steel drum bands, Soca, and calypso music, there are many stages along the route of the procession when the sound of the bands merges with that produced by the sound systems.
Over 40 static sound systems transform Notting Hill during the carnival. Predominantly pumping out Reggae, Ska and Dub music - as well as a good selection of Funk and House - these sounds can quite literally make the concrete shake!
Hundreds of street stalls selling Caribbean food offer ample fuel to keep up the party spirit. You will get the chance to taste many delicious and authentic variations on West Indian staples, including jerk chicken and rice and peas, as well as exotic favourites such as goat curry and fried plantain.
With much of this food cooked on traditional half drum barbecues, the enticing aroma through the carnival is sure to stimulate a healthy appetite.
Over a million people are expected to attend the carnival this year, so the safety advice for those staying in London hotels outside of the Notting Hill area is to plan their exit from the festivities, in advance. This is due to the fact that the northern entrances and exits are historically very busy as the action comes to a close in the evening, and so leaving the site by the western or southern entrances is advisable if possible.