Carnival is the highlight of the year for many Londoners. The biggest street celebration in Europe attracts over 2.5 million people every year. See the gentrified streets of Notting Hill burst into vibrant, colourful life, hear sound systems pumping out music from ancient ska tunes to ultra-modern hits-of-tomorrow, and scoff some of the firiest, jerkiest food you’ll ever taste. It’s a full-on festival of Caribbean culture that is wild and fun in your child-free days, but as with everything when you have kids, it’s a different kind of fun with the nippers in tow.Here are our top tips to surviving the madness and having a harmonious, family day out:
* Go on the Sunday, designated as Children’s Day; things are a little less raucous and more family friendly.
* Tap up any pals you’ve got in the area and use their home as a base. Queues for toilets are horrendous and it’s nice to have somewhere to escape the crowds and flake for a bit.
* Make your travel plans well in advance; many underground stations are closed and buses diverted.
*Track down Gaz’s Rockin’ Blues sound system on Talbot Rd, and hang out there for an hour or two. He’s been cranking out crackly old ska and reggae hits since 1981’s festival, and gets kids and grandparents jigging alike. There’s a real family feel to his patch.
*Try and leave buggies at home. Use a sling if you can, or stick to piggybacks and shoulder carries.
*Remember your kids’ ear defenders. Ours love wearing their neon ‘headphones’.
Use this map to help you plan your day (download a copy to your phone, as reception can be very sketchy at Carnival)
Sunday and Monday 9am–7pm more here