As a first timer, I was a bit dubious about the Notting Hill Carnival after all the scaremongering of parents. As the largest street fair in Europe and at over 3 1/2 miles long this was understandable. However, it turned out to be a very impressive affair and any worrying thoughts were very much ill founded.
I had the most amazing time with the 500,000 strong crowd out for the 'children's' Sunday. Walking from the Oxford Tube coach stop in Notting Hill gate we found ourselves a little lost. As the sun began to shine, we went on the hunt for some cheap food and alcoholic drinks. My breakfast was a corn-on-the-cob, blackened from the barbecue. My fiancée settled for a simplistic burger amongst the jerk chicken and peas and rice, and Ellie saved herself for the drink. Unlike us, Ellie was sensible, armed with vodka and coke, while me and James hunted for cheap drinks. We settled on £2 a can Stella and a large and fruity Sangria for £5, offered drugs as we did so it was certainly a peculiar experience.
Following the largest crowd we could see, we turned corners galore until we accidentally came across the carnival. Dancing alongside, we actually ended up within the parade, amidst chocolate covered dancers (whom smothered poor Ellie and her beautiful white blouse) and cutesy birds of paradise costumes. We danced our way past each float and to our horror, both me and Ellie got grabbed by some very energetic men, performing some very dirty dancing.
The Notting Hill carnival is definitely not tame, it is fun, fast-paced and exhilarating. Leaving us pretty saddened as we exited the cultural delight. Overall, everyone seemed happy, the police were delightful as they kept the carnival spirit and attentive eyes. I witnessed no real issues and it just seemed like everyone was lost in the happiness of the day. We left sucking on sugar cane, reminding us of the fun of our day as we sprawled in the nearby Hyde Park, truly exhausted. I will be back next year without fail and I think everyone should make the effort to visit also! Even those of the strongest will would not be able to resist the charm of this carnival, it is sure to get you on your feet!