Notting Hill Carnival started in 1966 and the yearly celebration has since become one of the biggest street carnival’s in the world, attracting around 1 million people annually. The event traditionally takes place over the last Bank Holiday weekend of August, meaning that this year the main carnival day will take place on Sunday 28th August 2016. Children’s Day is on Monday 29th August 2016, and the floats are made lower so as to let the little ones can see the sites properly. Notting Hill Carnival starts at 9 am and ends at around 7 pm on both days. There are also plenty of pre-parties taking place throughout London on the bank holiday weekend on Friday 26th and Saturday 27th August 2016.
Those of you looking forward to chowing down on curried goat, jerk chicken, rice n beans and plantain (washed down with plenty of Guinness Punch, of course) whilst jamming out to lots of dub, reggae, salsa, calypso, soca and steel drum bands ought to head to tube station without too many disruptions. Paddington, Queen’s Park, Kensal Rise, Kensal Green, High Street Kensington, Shepherd’s Bush and a newly-reopened Holland Park stations are all walkable distance to the carnival. Notting Hill Gate, Royal Oak, Portobello Road and Westbourne Park are exit-only between 11 am and 6 pm (7 pm for Notting Hill Station), and are generally best avoided until peak travelling times have ended.
So, now that we have all the essential what and where information out of the way, it’s now down to the important questions, like, “What shall I wear for Notting Hill Carnival?” and “What costumes are most suitable for the parade?” Well, we here at Escapade Fancy Dress will suggest you follow and keep in consideration these five points and ideas …
#1 – Stay Comfortable
It’s the end of summer and there will be lots of people around. Therefore, it’s going to get hot and sweaty. We would advise you to carry a bottle of water around, and take note of the sorts of things the paraders themselves are wearing – glittery and sequined crop tops, skirts, vests, bras and loose-fitting trousers. Breathable, sturdy footwear or trainers are a must, too. Basically, don’t overdo it on the layers and have a zipped-up pocket or small bag to keep your stuff in.
#2- Keep it Simple Yet Colourful
Notting Hill Carnival will be awash in a sea of the colours most associated with the Caribbean. That means lots of red, yellow, green, gold, black and blue. Think the flags of Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Antigua, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Expect a dash of South America and Panama, too! Loose, colourful clothing is generally best for wondering about in during Carnival.
#3 – Headdresses
Let’s face it: one of the best things about Notting Hill Carnival is the vast array of amazing, sparkly, spangly, glittery feathery headdresses made by some of London’s best costume designers and makers. Luckily, we here at escapades sell some of them, so there’s no need to labour for hours on end to create something spectacular. The glittery, tasselled undergarments are optional, but highly recommended if you’re part of a parade and/or want to keep cool whilst almost literally dancing your trousers off!
#4 – Get Your Masquerade On!
There’s loads of floats with a distinct masquerade theme at the Notting Hill Carnival, and there are fewer costumes and accessories that are simpler, cooler and more stylish than a Venetian Mask. Indeed, the masquerade tradition at Notting Hill Carnival is so strong that it has its own term, called “playing mas”. This means to dress up in costume or to carry standards and parade as part of a mas band. The mas bands displaying their brand of samba, salsa and calypso this year are Rampage Mas Band, London School of Samba, Karma Infinity Mas Band, Fusion Community Carnival Arts, Trinidad & Tobago Carnival Club, D Riddim Tribe and many more.
#5- Is there a Costume Theme?
Both yes and no. Of course, there’s a generally Caribbean, South American and Latin theme, and parades and mas bands often have their own themes (you can find this out by finding out which groups have registered). You can, however, create your own theme, and many people come down in group costumes. Getting involved in this way can help keep costume ideas on a specific path, as well as help you find others should one of your group get lost in the crowds.
Whether it’s feather boas, glittery bras and hot pants, headdresses, colourful vests, face and body paints or Jamaican flags you’re looking for (or even a mixture of all of them), come on down to Escapade Fancy Dress in Camden. We are sure to be able to sort out a great costume for you at this year’s Notting Hill Carnival. We hope to see you down there!