Notting Hill Carnival guide

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Indy Lifestyle Online
The carnival is over two days, with the main event on Bank Holiday Monday. The children's procession is on the quieter Sunday. Floats start between 10am and noon on each day and tour the carnival area. They go south down Ladbroke Grove then into Westbourne Grove via Arundel Gardens. Take a left into Ledbury Road, a right back along Westbourne Park Road, into Great Western Road and then back along Kensal Road to join Ladbroke Grove again. The procession moves at a snail's pace, with each float carrying costumed revellers behind it like a tail.

Good places to stand are on the hill of Ladbroke Grove, although the main judging point for the mas bands is by the wonderful new public toilet on Westbourne Grove and for the steel bands under the Westway on Ladbroke Grove. It is worth watching the whole mas procession, but ones to really look out for are Masquerade 2000, Dragons, Perpetual Beauty, Flamingo and Mahogany & Brent Youth Arts, all winners last year.

Of the steel bands, Metronome and the Red Strip Ebony band are both fantastic, but keep your eye on Sir Coxsone on the ANC float, he always keeps going long after everything else has closed down, with a huge column of merrymakers, playing a cat-and-mouse game with the police. Until about 10 years ago all the sound systems played reggae. Now they reflect the full spectrum of sounds heard in London's clubs. One of the first to break the mould was Good Times. DJ Norman Jay, a clubland hero, is sure to pull a huge crowd to his site on Precinct Corner, where Southern Row meets West Row. He plays club classics, funk and lots of rare groove.

On the ragga scene the best two are Nasty Love, in Colville Gardens and Saxon, on Adair Road. If you want to see just how excited a reggae crowd can get, this is the place. Abashanti are well known for playing dub and roots reggae, they can be found on Goldbourne Road. Winners of last year's best-dressed sound, Gaz's Rockin' Blues, are back. This year their rig, outside Fullerton's on Talbot Road, is disguised as a giant ghetto blaster. They play a wide variety of music. Shock Sound were the first to bring house and jungle to the carnival, so expect a huge crowd in front of Park Gate, Talbot Rd. Rampage are local heroes and play the sound of young black London, hip-hop, swing and jungle. If you fancy the crush then head to Colville Gardens. Others worth checking out: The Ministry of Sound, with legendary DJ Tony Humphries on Conlan Street and Rapattack, on All Saints Road, are carnival mainstays.

Tim Westwood brings his hard-core rap set to the covered market under the Westway. There will be some informal PAs too, including the Woo-Tan Clan. But the only live music at the Carnival is provided by Touch Magazine. Their stage is in Powis Square and on the Sunday you can see All Saints 1.9.7.5, Silver, Danny Red, Act of Faith, Paul Johnson, The Brotherhood, Misty Oldland, Wayne Marshall, McKoy, Cash Crew, Real 2 Reel and Don-e. Then on Monday Alysha Warren, FM Inc, Darkman, Nu Colours, China Black, Vivienne McKone, Outside, Jhelisa Anderson, MN8, Bag a' Worries, Tenor Fly, Top Cat, Terror Fabulous. The show runs from noon until 7pm and is hosted by Fat Freddie and the Rapscallion with the Boogie Bunch behind the decks.

Restaurants, pubs and bars will be open all day. This is your chance to sample Caribbean cuisine: jerk chicken, dumplings and rice and peas are all delicious. Talbot Road and Powis Square have the best stalls.

The Notting Hill Carnival has something for everyone. Enjoy.

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