How to prepare for carnival

Are you going to a carnival this year but aren’t sure how to prepare for it? Well you are in the right place. I’ve written down my very own personal preparation list for carnival! I have attended many carnivals in my 27 years on this earth but last year I attended Notting Hill for the first time and it was such a different experience! I hope you find my list helpful.

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If there is one thing I can guarantee about carnivals worldwide, it’s that people know how to turn up! Glitter faces, Caribbean flags, feather head dresses, body paint… you name it and I bet you will see it! Make sure you feel comfortable in what you’re wearing and bare in mind if you look too good, people will be stopping you for photos (then you know you brought your A game).

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Photo: visitlondon.com

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It seems so obvious but we’ve all been there! Forgot to hit the plug switch and woken up with 18% battery! Make sure your phones on charge before you go to bed! If you’re not taking a DSLR or digital camera with you then you’re definitely going to want your phone with you to capture some great memories you’re about to make!! Not to mention the steaming hot Caribbean food, bright and wonderful carnival costumes and the impressive crowds that the carnival bring in.

Here’s a photo I captured at NottingHill Carnival 2016 with my iPhone 6+. It’s still one of my favourite photos I’ve ever taken.

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Just in case you do forget to hit that switch (or like me your a photo-holic), your battery might not last the whole carnival but I know my power bank has my back! I have a Kit portable charger and I can honestly say it’s fantastic! I’ve gone days without even charging my phone from a plug socket because of this little beauty. I got mine on offer from Currys and they still sell it even now at a great price!

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I can’t stress enough how important it is to stay hydrated!! There will be plenty of places to buy water but there is normally a water premium at large events like carnivals and you could find yourself paying up to £3 for a bottle of water! Carry a water bottle with you that you can refill when you have to opportunity. This will help you to cut down on the expense of the event.

money

Bringing some money to carnival is a must especially if you want to support some black owned businesses! There will be fantastic things on offer like flags, clothing, incredible food, CD’s and loads of other stuff! I will say don’t go crazy and carry too much money around with you though! I personally have about £30 on me and this covers food, travel, water and any souvenirs I might find.

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Photo: cajun-food.liligo.co.uk

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Every year prior to the carnival you will be able to find the route online which is fantastic! You can see things like where the emergency services are, where the toilets are located, the route of the parade and more! If you suffer from anxiety you will find this very valuable when looking for places you can have a minute to yourself, equally the same if you have small children. You can get more information about the route here at TimeOut.

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Arrive early if you want to get a good view of the parade. Every year millions of people attend Notting Hill carnival so there is no guarantee that you will be front and centre for any of the parade however the map covers a long route so pick a place and arrive early to get a good view! Last year I arrived about an hour before the parade started and found myself at the front & start of the parade! It was awesome but there really is no science to it (unless you’re so keen that you pitch up a tent the night before haha).

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Okay so this one is totally dependent on the completely unreliable British weather but it’s better to be safe than sorry! If you have children it’s definitely better to carry it with you and protect their very sensitive skin. If you really don’t want to carry it around with you (I totally get that) but it won’t hurt to apply some before you leave the house. While on the topic of unreliable weather, maybe bring an umbrella too but fingers crossed it won’t come to that.

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A whole day of walking can be strenuous for anyone, even the fittest of people, plus I’m sure you’ll be dancing a lot! Get yourself some comfy trainers or flat shoes. If you’re worried about your snazzy trainers being ruined get yourself a cheap pair and jazz them up yourself! Just promise me you won’t wear high heels!?

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I would never recommend carrying any kind of valuables to a busy festival or event especially things like expensive cameras, camcorders or other capturing devices. However if you’re going to carnival with the intention of capturing the beauty of the Caribbean then it can’t be avoided. My top tips for protecting your valuables are:

  • Make sure you have some way of keeping your equipment attached to you when you’re busy dancing to the Soca, eating the delicious food available or simply not using it. I have a neck strap for my camera and always keep it over my shoulder or around my neck at events. Most equipment will come with something similar but if you need to buy one get yourself over to Amazon to find a good deal. Check out this snazzy one.
  • Get some insurance! It’s not that expensive with sites like protect your bubble and money supermarket you can find great deals to protect your equipment easily from the comfort of your own home!
  • You may have seen many a tourist carrying their backpack on their front and laughed… but it’s definitely the safest way to ensure no one is dipping into your bag. Again we’ve all been there where we forgot to zip our backpacks up before putting them on our backs and a lovely stranger had let us know. I will say though, bum bags are back!

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Photo: ethical.market/

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Carnival is the one time of the year that I feel is completely set aside for a combination of fun, black culture and togetherness! It’s a fantastic experience and an amazing thing to do with friends and family.

So my most important tip is to HAVE FUN!!! Enjoy the dancing, enjoy the food, take great photos, protect and love one another! I can’t wait to see your Instagram photos! I hope you enjoyed reading this post and it helped you get ready for the time of your life!

 

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