Never been to Notting Hill Carnival? Here’s how to do it like a grown up

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  • ✨ And yes, it still involves glitter ✨

    I’m a born-and-bred South Londoner, but, I’m ashamed to say I’ve never gone to Notting Hill Carnival. I know, cast all the judgement you like, because I judge myself tbh.

    And the thing is, I love music and I adore Caribbean food – but I’m not a massive fan of crowds, I don’t like feeling stuck and I definitely hate feeling unprepared.

    So, I decided to take to the internet, and consult beauty blogger and veteran Notting Hill Carnival goer Elise (AKA Little Miss Plumful), on what I needed to know. And, her survival guide is ?

    3 more sleeps until #Carnival festivities start! I can't wait! ???

    A post shared by ???Elise??? (@littlemissplumful) on

    Wear comfortable but colourful clothes

    ‘Definitely don’t bother with heels as you’ll be dancing all day so comfort is key. And avoid open toe shoes as you’ll get your toes crushed in the crowds. Come rain or shine, my carnival uniform is shorts, crop top and bright trainers. Skin dries faster than clothes when it rains! You’ll be dancing around so much that you won’t feel cold. That’s carnival climate. A hoodie is always a good idea in case it rains. Umbrellas and dancing crowds don’t mix so don’t even bother with a brolly. And, don’t forget your whistle and horn! If you have sensitive ears, bring ear plugs.’

    Wear water-resistant make-up

    ‘You’ll need it to protect you from rain and flying drinks! Urban decay makeup setting spray is ace at keeping your makeup intact. It’s carnival so pile on some glitter so you dazzle as much as the carnival queens.’

    Do not travel into Notting Hill

    ‘Although most people would think to travel to carnival via Notting hill, you’re better off going to a quieter station and walking in to avoid the crowds. Westbourne park is a good one as they don’t usher you away from the entrance so you can meet the rest of your party there. Plus there are some decent toilets there complete with taps and mirrors so it’s a good idea to use those before you head towards the dreaded port-a-loo only zone. I would suggest meeting your carnival crew early and traveling in together.’

    Commit to your carnival crew

    ‘Mobile phone networks go down so it’s no point trying to meet anybody once you’re in. You will spend your whole day chasing each other so make sure everyone has a map if they’re unfamiliar with the area and decide on a meeting point in case you lose each other.’

    Plan your exit ahead of time

    ‘Remember that most stations are exit only during the day so plan your route ahead of time. The police may reopen or close the stations on the outer perimeters depending on crowds. The important thing is to get out of the main carnival area to the back streets before 7pm so you don’t get stuck in the crowds.’

    Have a toilet break strategy

    ‘It can take you ages to manoeuvre yourselves through a crowd in search of a toilet. But, local residents open their bathrooms up so you’re better off paying a couple of quid and using those instead of the portaloos.’

    Be an earlybird

    ‘Arrive early and leave early. Unfortunately as the day goes on more trouble breaks out. So, always try to leave before the sound systems shut off at 7pm to avoid the mass crowds that migrate towards the stations.’

    Stay on the sides

    ‘Avoid being in the middle of it all. Stay on the side in case there’s a rush in the crowd which often happens.’

    Travel light

    ‘Bring tissues, hand sanitiser and wet wipes (a must for quick clean-ups of jerk chicken fingers). There are plenty of off-licenses but to avoid the queues bring pre-mixed drinks in with you and just buy a few beers later in the day. Avoid carrying any valuables on you. You will be in body-to-body crowds most of the day so keep your phone somewhere safe.’

    Be photo ready

    ‘If you mainly want to watch the procession and the incredible costumes, make sure you get a snap with a carnival queen/king. But, if you want to avoid the crowded viewing areas, stand alongside Ladbroke Grove where the road is wider and you have a bit more room to dance and join in with the good vibes. The sound system on Telford road by the Eagle Pub is a great spot too, as you are able to experience the floats and sound systems whilst being close to food stalls and having access to the pub loos.’

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