There's just something about stepping up to Carnival and feeling the loud music reverberating through my body, that makes me feel so happy and energised.
After the wonder that was Notting Hill Carnival 2009, I was geared up for a fun-filled Bank Holiday weekend, and planned to hit the Carnival both on Sunday and Monday. However, just as I was getting ready to leave my house on Sunday afternoon, it started raining, and all my enthusiasm went with it, down the drain. Of course, about an hour later the sun came out, but by that point I was happily settled with a good book and a bowl of sliced up watermelon cubes...
On Monday, the sun was shining, so I headed to Kensal Rise to walk up to the Carnival, and I was instantly glad that I did. Yes, it's crowded - but it's crowded full of happy faces, amazing costumes, music, friends and most importantly, jerk chicken!
I had arranged to meet with a couple of friends, but a combination of bad phone coverage (I suppose because there were so many people?) and my inability to settle in one place, meant that we kept missing each other. I did, however, bump into numerous old friends, and got carried along with them. That's one of the great things about Carnival - amongst the hundreds of thousands of people who take to the streets, you always manage to see a few familiar faces and stumble upon friends old and new.
The Notting Hill Carnival, which has been taking place every summer since the 1960s really is one of the best free street parties (and the biggest Carnival outside of Rio) in London. I must admit I wasn't always as enthusiastic about it, but had a bit of breakthrough last year, when we were bathed in glorious sunshine all weekend, and I spent both days drinking Malibu and dancing at the Good Times soundsystem. Plus, as with most things, it is what you make of it.
So whilst the Carnival is free, and most people bring their own booze (and various other mood enhancers...) I would recommend budgeting for a) jerk chicken and b) clean toilets. Trust me, you do not want to have to queue up for the smelly portaloos if you are bursting - rather, invest and spend a penny (or £1, as is more accurately the case) to enter the home of a local, and use their nice clean toilet, complete with toilet paper, running water and soap. It's beneficial to all parties concerned (and wow what a money spinner for those living in the area!) and then you can get back to having fun.
Anyway, I will leave the photos to tell the story, as I don't think it needs anymore explaining - just make sure you are around for London's most vibrant, colourful, street party on the August bank holiday in 2011!