Notting Hill Carnival Family Day 2020
Is Notting Hill Carnival kid friendly? Here's how to party on the streets safely and enjoy carnival with children
Until you have kids, that is. At which point partying - street or otherwise - seems to go on hold indefinitely.
The good news is, Carnival is a very family-friendly affair - if you know when to go, and how to do it right. Plus, it runs from August 29-31st (on Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday), at which point you'll have exhausted pretty much every other option for kids' entertainment, like scoring those Kids' Week tix.
The Notting Hill Carnival devotes a day to families: this year, it's on Sunday, August 30, where you can expect the spirited exuberance the festival is known for - and those fabulous sequinned costumes kids will adore - but on a less intense level.
Credit: Glodi Miessi
Sunday's Family Day festivities kick off at 10am. The opening ceremony, J'Ouvert, the "dirty" Carnival celebration in Ladbroke Grove, is all about forgetting your daily stresses to the sounds of African steel drums and rhythm bands - chocolate and paint being thrown is part and parcel of this affair.
This is followed by a Children's Parade, with children donning colourful, ornate costumes and dancing on floats. Bonus for your kids? Beads, headgear and fancy dress are all encouraged - they'll want to be as fancy as the performers, after all.
From masquerade bands to costume and mask-making workshops, young revellers can get involved in all kinds of ways.
This year, the best bands will be in procession early from 10 am as they make their way through the parade route towards the judging point located in the Great Western Rd. The mas or masquerade bands are part of the carnival’s history. The idea derived from Trinidad and is the heart and soul of Notting Hill Carnival.
There's plenty of live Caribbean inspired music and delicious food everywhere, but we'd still recommend packing loads of snacks as there will be queues. Also, check out Emslie Horniman Pleasance Park, which has Caribbean food and drink and also hosts family workshops in the day. This map can help you get orientated in advance.
A few things to note? The earlier you arrive in the day, the better to avoid the hordes of people. Also, if you're bringing younger kids whose potty skills are questionable, this may be the day to leave them in nappies or bring along a portable potty - the queues for the loos are long. Water is another essential, as is sun cream.
Yet another bonus? All of this colour, vibrancy and energy is yours free of charge (but do bring cash for the tasty food stalls - even though you'll already have packed 15 sandwiches in your bag, you know your kids will want that delicious jerk chicken). For other free kids' events in London, check out our guide here.