The countdown has begun and we only have a few days to get ready for one of the biggest and best carnival experiences in the world. OK fine... maybe I’m being biased as I have only ever been to Notting Hill Carnival, but surely a million other carnival goers can’t be wrong?
Just like Spring Break Portugal, Carnival is one of those things that I look forward to every single year. It’s what officially ends summer for me, but with the happiest and biggest bang ever! If you grew up in London, then you should know what I mean. And if you have never been before then you have you even really lived?
So with that being said, I thought I’d put together a little list of Do’s & Don'ts to make sure you have the best experience ever.
Plan ahead – Phone service is rubbish! stations and buses are either closed or diverted! and barriers are up everywhere! What you don’t want to do is turn up without a plan and spend the day wandering about aimlessly trying to find where to go and what to do. Download a NHC18 map and pick your favourite spots. If you want to see the bands and floats, make sure you go on time. Thereafter, either follow them or choose a good spot to chill and watch them from.
Pack your bag wisely – The best option I can suggest is to take a bum bag or a small rucksack, but wear it on your front. Make sure you take cash, your phone, tissues/wipes for when the port-a-loo’s run out, makeup if you’re wearing some for re-touches, a small bottle of sunscreen if the weather is good, water if it fits and maybe a battery pack if you intend to take snaps and or photos! Anything else is excessive and you will get tired carrying anything more than this.
Meet in advance – The crowds are insane, everything gets chaotic no matter how well you know the area and the phone reception is non-existent. Last year I spent the whole day trying to find a few friends who didn’t meet us beforehand and in the end we just had to give up.
Sound systems – Half of the fun of Carnival is slipping down a side street to listen to one of the many sound systems that are playing the BEST carnival music; from Soca to Bashment, from Latin to Dub, from Rap to RnB, there is something for absolutely everyone. Oh wait... did I say listen to? No... I meant to whine and two step to with a Red Stripe in your hand! Some of our resident DJ’s from Spring Break Portugal will be performing at a number of locations such as DJ Krisis at the 'BLOC PARTY' in Middle Row.
Caribbean cuisine – Please don’t go to Carnival and try to queue for some artisan pop-up that specialises in vegan jerk burgers or some other weird made up eatery. Find yourself a stall that has the most Aunties (yes... you read that right... I mean someone that looks like your typical Aunty) working there and treat your taste buds to a real Caribbean meal. Typical choices include jerk chicken with rice and peas and coleslaw. My favourite is curry goat with rice and a dumpling or, if you like them sweet, a festival and get some plantain too. You will not be disappointed! And as for drinks, the only things allowed are Red Stripe, Rum, Punch and Magnums… oh and water. Please remember to stay hydrated.
High heels/expensive trainers – Walking gets tiring, especially when you’ll be at it all day long. People will step on your feet, and things inevitably get spilled. NO matter how well you think you can last in heels or how much you think your shoes won’t get dirty, know now... you are wrong.
Large amounts of cash – Be vigilant of pickpockets and don’t keep all your cash together in the same place. I recommend putting some emergency cash or extra cash in your sock or an area similar. With the sheer amount of people surrounding you, even pulling out your phone could result in money falling out which you will never see again.
Pressure to dance with people – Please do not feel pressured to dance with or give your number to anyone. If you don’t want to do anything, just politely decline and walk away. If you are worried, there are plenty of police officers around that you can go chat to or even stand next to.
Drugs – Whilst we don’t condone drugs, people will be smoking weed which is pretty normal for Carnival. If you’re considering anything else, please leave it at home as you can easily ruin yours and others fun. It’s just not necessary.
Bad attitude – Carnival is all about community, people, celebration and having fun. Leave your bad vibes, your beef, and your bad mood at home and enjoy the day!
That's all from me! Enjoy the weekend and leave us a comment on your favourite things about Carnival. Love Monika ❤