London

Notting Hill Carnival: How to keep the kids entertained

Parents with children at Notting Hill Carnival Image copyright Getty Images

For many parents, the idea of taking children to an event which crams more than a million people into the streets of west London is not exactly appealing.

Yet the Notting Hill Carnival, with its vivid costumes, pulsating rhythms and endless dancing, consistently proves popular with families.

BBC News looks at five ways parents can keep their children entertained at what organisers claim is Europe's biggest street carnival.


Watch the Parade

Image copyright Reuters

The most obvious thing to do and the main reason so many people descend on the area year after year.

With its child-friendly atmosphere, Sunday is designated as Family Day as children join the parade route around Notting Hill.

Among the groups performing this year are Batala London who featured in the BBC's Olympic coverage.

For young world music fans there's also a stage at Powis Square featuring calypso and soca performances, plus 38 sound systems tucked away in the side streets.

But be warned - visitors are advised to arrive early, leave the pram at home, and most important of all - bring ear protection for the little ones.


Get covered in chocolate

Image copyright Getty Images

For those families who get up even earlier, there's the chance of joining Jouvert.

This lively procession sees performers throwing paint, chocolate and flour over each other to the accompaniment of steel bands, riddim bands and African drummers.

Its name is taken from the French "jour ouvert", or "open of the day", and marks the beginning of the festivities.

The parade begins at Canal Way in Ladbroke Grove at 06:00 BST at the start of Family Day.


Feel the steel

Image copyright Getty Images

The night before the performers hit the streets, it's the turn of the steel bands at the Panorama.

Bands from across the country descend on Emslie Horniman Park as they compete to be crowned National Champions of Steel.

The event, which has been going on since 1978, is free and begins at 18:00 BST.

Another recommendation for any pre-parade attendees are the music heats where performers compete for a place on a float.


Head to the park

Image copyright Getty Images

If you get tired of being part of the throngs on the street, families can always retreat to Emslie Horniman Park during the parade.

In previous years family workshops with stalls like face painting have been held, although the organisers have not confirmed what will be happening there this year.

Another spot recommended for a respite is the small park stretching along the canal between the top of Golborne Road and Westbourne Park Tube station.

It has grassy areas and ducks to feed but is also close to the start of the parade route so you won't miss out on the carnival atmosphere.


Indulge in some jerk chicken

Image copyright Getty Images

Another iconic part of the carnival is the street food, with hundreds of food stalls lining the streets.

Just be careful with those spices.


Image copyright Tamsin Daniel

Carnival regular Tamsin Daniel explains how she keeps her kids entertained at the event:

"Eat jerk chicken, dance your socks off, embrace the madness!

"Don't be afraid if you're taking kids, just stay on the outside of heavy crowds.

"Golborne Road is our limit and favourite part to get some food, find some music and enjoy the festival fun.

"We always get the children a whistle."

Image copyright Tamsin Daniel

The Notting Hill Carnival takes place from 28 to 29th August from 10:00 to 20:00 BST.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites