A Guide to the Notting Hill Carnival for International Students

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If you’re looking to make your summer as memorable as possible during your homestay, London has definitely got you covered – and Notting Hill Carnival should be at the top of your list of things to do.

This annual celebration of Caribbean heritage is one of the largest street festivals in the world, attracting nearly one million people every year! Imagine multi-coloured costumes, reggae and calypso music blaring out into the streets and a huge selection of food stalls serving up delicacies from across the globe. This event is the perfect way to explore your new city during your homestay: London’s summer spectacular in Notting Hill is not to be missed.

A Brief History

Dating back to 1959, this world-famous celebration all started with Claudia Jones, who is now known as ‘the mother of the Notting Hill Carnival’. Her first organised event was a party aiming to bring the local British people and Caribbean residents of London together, eventually forming lasting relationships and a famous cultural connection. What better way to make new friends than with a party?

As they say, the rest is history. The event has continued ever since, expanding to include colourful parades, celebrity speakers and fabulous stalls displaying the wares of the tropical island. Today, the celebration is held in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and in 2006 it was made an official icon of England. Whether you’re living nearby or a little further away during your homestay, London’s biggest party is a must.

Making Memories

This festival of colour takes place over three days with the first day holding a steel band music competition that sees the whole street become a massive dance party, continuing until late evening.

If your host family has younger members, the second day will be the perfect outing. Festivities begin early in the morning with a traditional Caribbean carnival, followed by the Children’s Parade. What better way to bond with your host family during your homestay? London may seem overwhelming at times, but at Notting Hill Carnival, it’ll feel like one big family.

If you can only attend one day, you must see the Grand Finale held on Monday. The festivities build up over the weekend to reach a peak of dancing, performances and the final parade, which is where the festival becomes truly iconic. Celebrate with locals and indulge in the delicious treats and funky beats.

Be Prepared: Top Tips

While the carnival is loads of fun, it’s also extremely busy. Here are a few things to keep in mind to ensure you have the best possible experience.

•Pack a small day bag with water, sun cream and sunglasses.
•Get a map of the site. Some roads will be blocked off and it’s good to know where you’re going.
•Wear trainers – you want to be comfortable if you’re going to join in with the dancing!

If you only do one thing this summer during your homestay, London’s Notting Hill Carnival should be it!

Sophie Smith works as an independent consultant and offers advice to young people looking for London-based student accommodation, whether they prefer Halls of Residence or a private homestay. London has a wide range of options when it comes to student living, and Sophie’s expert tips and tricks never fail to put aspiring residents at ease. Her knowledge stems from her first-hand experience studying in the city and living on a budget, so she is more than qualified to support others doing the same.

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