August is a bittersweet month. Yes, British Summer Time is almost dead and gone but elsewhere it means it’s time for Notting Hill Carnival (yaay!) to give us all one last hurrah before we plunge into the cold for the foreseeable future. With extra poignance following a turbulent year for the country – felt perhaps most prominently within the event’s own neighbourhood – the Caribbean street party takes over London’s Royal Borough for a two-day celebration of diversity, community and creativity, Sunday through Monday. So get your whistle, grab your Red Stripe, and get to know to our picks of the weekend’s finest line-ups.
7 WONDERS: NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL
Acquaint yourselves with our pick of this year’s most banging sounds.
The OG selector and dub producer returns to prove once again why he’s one of carnival’s most respected institutions. Once crowned the number one DJ in the world, Aba Shanti dips out of his monthly residency at Scala to bless us with the heaviest dub and roots reggae. Brace yourself for heavy reverb.
Where: East Row meets Southern Row.
This year sees the Tubby Crew link up with Boiler Room for another year to form the best carnival combo since rice and peas. Boiler Room – who will be livestreaming all day from various stages, should you, for some bizarre reason, not be there – unite with the carnival’s oldest soundsystem (est. 1970) to bring you a killer set of reggae, dancehall, r’n’b and bashment. Expect wheel-ups aplenty.
Where: Clydesdale Road outside Clydesdale House.
Red Bull Music Academy
After a two year hiatus, Red Bull Music Academy rejoins the festivities with a brand new two-day offering. Catch them kick off the weekend with a sound system party on Sunday – featuring a performance from Stefflon Don and Jamaican dancehall queen Spice, alongside Mixpak boss Dre Skull and afrobeats dons Belly Squad – before their bespoke float with steel-band Mangrove hits the road on Monday. To get you warmed up, the Belly Squad guys have also teamed up with Mangrove to bring you a carnival remix of their new tune ‘Lifestyle’.
Where: Emslie Horniman’s Pleasance Park.
All those disappointed by their absence last year, rejoice. Rampage, carnival’s largest and arguably best loved sound system is back! Renowned as one of the most notorious stages at carnival, it’s played host in the past to the likes of Sean Paul, Swizz Beats, Mark Ronson and Wiley. The BBC Radio 1Xtra legends bring you hip hop, dancehall and jungle and some smooth r’n’b to catch a whine to (with consent, of course).
Where: Colville Square.
And where would the Rampage stage be without its older brother Rapattack? Rapattack (also backed by Boiler Room) calls West London home and the NottingDale/Grenfell community its family. With that said, the vibe here is strictly peace, love and harmony as the Rapattack gang spin us back to the good old days with a unique blend of retro vinyls. Prepare for a slick mix of soul, jazz, funk, house, hip-hop and dance classics all day long.
Where: 23 All Saints Road.
SSP Sound System
Commuting from South London for the occasion is SSP Sound (AKA the gun finger stage), the answer to your UK garage, grime and house prayers. Fresh off the festival circuit, SSP are claiming a new spot on the route this year and with previous guests including Julio Bashmore, Toddla T and Gyptian, some pretty special announcements are to be expected *cough, Annie Mac, cough*.
Where: Usually Alderson Street but location TBC.
International party people 3’Hi (that’s Three Feet High) makes a special trip to London for an extra live carnival party on Sunday night. The incredible line-up includes the eclectic Mumdance, NYC vogue prince Byrell The Great and new wave hip hop and grime producer, JD REID (and so many more) plus a super secret headline DJ. Booze comes courtesy of Captain Morgan and Wavy Ice with Tokyo designer Edwin collaborating on some one-off limited edition tees. A proportion of the pprofits on the night will go to the victims of the Grenfell. Get your tickets at Resident Advisor.
Where: The Common, Willesden Junction.