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What the haters say: It’s just bloody noise. It sounds like angry men trying to out shout an army of pubescently warbly moomins screaming threats into a megaphone, to a bassline that sounds like auto-tuned exploding planets.

Why they're wrong: They’re not entirely wrong, the basslines do sound like auto-tuned exploding planets, but in a really good way. That, however, takes a narrow view; like most festivals, the aural offerings at Notting Hill are as diverse as you could ask for.

From this year’s big name acts The Marley Brothers, Disclosure and Wookie, to the plethora of sound systems, steel drums, samba troops and Latin tunes, if you can’t find something you’re into, maybe music just isn’t for you?

Things are even more varied when it comes to the cacophony of Notting Hill after parties taking place across London throughout the weekend. Idris Elba is hosting a shingdig at Love And Liquor and for those having to scarper back north, The Hot Carribean Carnival will be immense fun at the O2 Academy Islington. See for full after party listings.

Safety and facilities

What haters say: Wear a stab vest, take nothing of value and you better not be shy about pissing behind a tree.

Why they're wrong: We can’t defend the toilet issue, but when you’ve got a million or more people packed into a few blocks it’s going to make a music fest look comfy.

Plan your toilet stops if you can (Red Stripe isn’t your friend here), as you’ll have to line up and hold your nose once you get there as the day goes on, or try your luck paying a smallish fee to use the lav of one of the locals who haven’t boarded up their windows and got out of dodge. While organisers do their best to keep rubbish under control, as the day draws on the neighbourhood looks like a tip. Get over it.

As for the stabby Carnival stereotype, it’s blown way out of proportion every year. But it’s a fact that crowds attract assholes. Police are omnipresent throughout the festival – 7000 of them made 299 arrests last year, mostly for minor stuff. That was 54 more than 2011, but not bad considering the crazy amount of people boozing in a largely unrestricted environment.

For the most part they add to the spirit of the day and are often seen tolerating being grinded on. If you’re wearing best jewellery or carrying your spare iPhone and it goes missing, serves you right, really. 

The Notting Hill Carnival, Sunday (family day) and Monday (adults day), August 25 & 26.   


Escape routes 


Latimer Road: Closes at 11.30pm.

Notting Hill Gate: Exit only 12pm-7pm. Circle and District line trains will not stop and no change from Central line.

Royal Oak: Exit only 11am-6pm. Closes at 6pm.

Westbourne Park: Exit only 11am-6pm. Closes at 11.30pm.

Bayswater: Open as usual.Queensway: Open as usual.

Paddington, High Street Kensington, Holland Park and Queen’s Park are good alternatives within walking distance.


The big reds won’t go into the Carnival zone but they do start from Notting Hill Gate in the south and the Prince of Wales on Harrow Road to the north. These checkpoints will obviously be jammed, but if you’re up for a walk along the route it doesn’t take long for buses to become quieter. Routes servicing Carnival: 2X, 6, 7, 16, 18, 23, 27, 28, 31, 36, 36X, 46, 52, 70, 94, 98, 148, 159, 187, 205, 205X, 220, 228, 295, 316, 328, 332, 390, 414, 436, 436X, 452, N7, N16, N18, N28, N31, N98 and N207.


Are you mad? Roads that aren’t closed will be packed, and you can’t drive after a skinful of punch and Stripes anyway.


La-di-da moneybags. Enjoy sitting in the traffic and paying for every second, if you’re not refused by picky cabbies.


Photos: Getty


Survival guide to Notting Hill Carnival: How to enjoy, not endure, London's craziest streetfest
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