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How to do Carnival with the kids in tow

TINY DANCERS: Children in costume at Carnival

AT NOTTING Hill Carnival, kids literally come first. The annual two-day festival kicks off with Children’s Day on Sunday (August 27), allowing youngsters to take centre stage (well, street), as they don their flamboyant costumes in a stunning parade.

It’s a day for family fun and there’s plenty of enjoyment for you and your little ones to have if you attend. Check out our top tips to ensure you have minimal fuss and maximum fun with your kids on Carnival Sunday.

1. Noise control

If you’re going with very small tots, it’s worth investing in a suitable pair of headphones to protect their little ears. Between the sound systems and the steel pans, the noise levels may well be overwhelming for little ones, so come equipped to shield those tiny ear drums.

2. Arrive early, leave early

If the thought of spending the whole day at carnival – with kids – causes you to break out in a sweat, just don’t do it. Instead, arrive early, spend a couple of hours taking in the action – and make those hours fun for your little ones – then call it a wrap. It’s family day so make it work for your family.

MINI ME TIME: Youngsters take in the vibes

3. Bring snacks

Kids can be notoriously impatient, so avoid the stress of waiting in long queues for food by bringing your own. Go for food items that can be wrapped in foil or cling film - sandwiches, chicken drumsticks, etc. – and that don’t need to be contained in plastic containers. That way, rubbish can be discarded easily (in bins, of course), allowing you to lighten your load along the way.

4. Find your spot

Don’t feel obliged to trawl the entire carnival route or get in a tizzy trying to get yourself (and your young’ns) through the crowds. Seek out a nearby park or find a suitable spot along the route, where you can take in the action as it passes by – while you stay in one place!

5. Bring a backpack

Carnival is not the place to be fashion forward with your clutch bag or handbag. Your hands need to be free to hold onto your kiddies – or grab them if they attempt to break loose! Put all your essentials in a rucksack and find an uber-trendy bum-bag (yes, unleash the bum-bag) to store your phone and money. Speaking of money...

6. Bring cash!

Please spare yourself the unnecessary stress of trying to seek out a cash machine along the carnival route. It’s just not worth it! Arrive with a suitable amount of money and make sure much of it is loose change. No vendor is going to thank you for handing over a £20 note to pay for one whistle! Speaking of whistles...

HANDS UP: A young man gets in the party mood

7. Get in the carnival spirit

There’s no sense in going to carnival if you plan to behave like the Grinch who stole Christmas. Let your little ones blow horns and whistles or buy them a flag to wave. Better still, get them a costume for the occasion – or make one if you’re creative! If they’re old enough, assist them to make or decorate their own mask or headdress in preparation for the day. In other words, let them have fun!

8. Arrange a meeting point

If you go with teens who are keen to cut you loose from the minute you arrive in Notting Hill, make sure you agree on a meeting point, should anyone get lost. Also, decide on a departure time and agree to meet in a designated spot at that time.

9. Make sure phones are charged

If your teenyboppers have phones, make sure they’re fully charged when you leave the house. Granted, at such a large event, phone signal may not be great. But give yourself a fighting chance of being able to communicate with your kids by making sure their phones – and yours – don’t succumb to a dead battery.

10. Check the weather

August should suggest summer fun, but this is England. Check weather reports before you leave your house and if rain is predicted, don’t step out with- out a raincoat or hooded jacket for your child/children. In fact, there’s no harm in bringing a brolly even if rain isn’t predicted. Again, this is England – you just never know!

11. Wear sensible shoes

Make sure you and your little’uns wear appropriate footwear for the day. Your cherub may insist on wearing her sparkly dolly shoes, but trainers are probably a better bet if you plan to do lots of walking. Similarly, pick comfy, durable shoes for yourself; avoid flip-flops to spare your toes getting trampled on if you brave the crowds.

12. Keep calm and carry on

Attending a large festival with young children might seem daunting. So go with a positive attitude and do all you can to keep stresses to a minimum. Take deep breaths in any moments of mayhem and remember you’re there to have fun!

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