Monday, 26 August 2013
Tips for visiting the Notting Hill Carnival
Yesterday we explored another London event: the Notting Hill Carnival, a Caribbean-inspired two-day festival in one of London's most gorgeous areas. I couldn't wait to go - I was expecting colour, music and an explosion of experiences to share with all of you here on the blog. Well...let's just say it's an experience. I'm happy I went, but I would have been even happier if I had found a post like this one that provided me with some savvy tips on how to navigate this very unique London happening.
Notting Hill Carnival dos and don'ts:
- Don't bring your camera. Above is the face of a man who happily carried my camera bag - with two different objectives - all day without complaining. The truth is, there's just not that much to photograph and if you do want to get pictures, it's way too much of a hassle setting your camera up while sandwiched between fifty dancing people. Everything you want to get on film, you can catch with a smartphone.
- Don't expect a real carnival. I came expecting huge floats, dancers dressed in shimmery colourful costumes. Instead, there were trucks playing reggae and people in denim shorts and Jamaica t-shirts dancing in the streets. Fun? Yes. An actual carnival? Not really.
- Don't eat before you leave home. There is all kinds of deliciousness at the Carnival - there's lots of meat, but there are veggie goodies as well. I discovered the Global Fusion Bakery - a vegan bakery that offers mouthwatering flavours such as banana-chocolate and "dark forest" (cherry and vanilla). Yum.
- Don't bring a jealous boyfriend - there are hot guys with no shirts on everywhere. David and I are completely fine with looking at other people all the time (I sometimes point out pretty girls to him!) so we were fine. But if your guy is jealous, keep your eyes down on the ground at all times.
- Do visit the toilet before leaving home. Lines to the toilets are devastating and I don't even want to think about what those toilets look like.
- If you are going with friends, do meet up beforehand - don't say "we'll just see you there". You won't. We were supposed to meet two friends and we didn't manage to find any of them in the chaos.
- Don't wear anything fancy. I slipped into my pleated maxi skirt and felt awesome - until someone spilled beer down the side of it. But I'm glad I didn't wear Converse - by the end of the day, I had water, coffee, beer and Coca Cola on my feet and wearing sandals made for a shame-free trip home (no brown stains on white Converse) and an easy cleaning procedure at home.
- Do go if you love reggae. The music is the best part of the carnival. It's absolutely fantastic.
And with this "what not to wear" picture above, I wish all of you that are going to the carnival today a very happy day!