By Maria Mora
The Notting Hill Carnival. Credit: Olga Pavlovsk
The largest European street festival of its kind, the Notting Hill Carnival covers 20 miles of West London streets and draws over one million visitors. The crowds indeed come, but there’s good reason: This elaborate and colorful festival celebrates Caribbean heritage and culture in all its glory, flavor and rhythm.
Caribbean delicacies, stunning costumes and parades, after-hours parties, and the real celebration here, music. Hundreds of thousands of attendees dance to everything from live calypso, soca and steel pan to modern hip hop booming from static sound systems.
This year, the Notting Hill Carnival takes place on August 29-30, 2010. If you’re ready to spice up your Europe vacation with a visit to the Carnival, here’s a few key tips to help make for smooth celebrating:
- Find London hotels near the Strand or within easy reach of public transportation. I like the 5-star Swissotel The Howard, located near Temple Station. It’s offering rooms for about $221 USD per night, including taxes and fees, for a 2-night stay (check-in Aug. 29). That’s a terrific rate for a London hotel with 24-hour room service, wireless Internet, babysitting services and access to a nearby health club.
- After traveling to several festivals and large music concerts, I learned this important lesson: Book an extra night or two to simply recuperate and play tourist. Street fairs and large festivals are exciting and stimulating — and they can totally wipe you out.
- Take advantage of London’s public transportation system. Most local roads will be closed for pedestrians, so plan to ride the bus or take the “Tube,” London’s subway system.
Maria Mora is a memoir blogger and wannabe photographer. She travels extensively throughout Florida and the Caribbean with her two young sons.