Mary-Jane Wiltsher, Assistant Editor

Calling all Carnival virgins: ignore that grey-faced gaggle of people you’ve heard grumbling about how much hanging around you have to do. They’re usually the novices who attempt accessing Carnival from the Notting Hill side of Portobello Road, where there’s invariably not much going on. It’s an obvious tip, but download the official Carnival app and suss out the parade route and sound system map beforehand. For my money, the best stages are always found in the little cross-section of streets between Middle Row, Southern Row and Kensal Road. You’re best off accessing these from Westbourne Park station.

My usual Carnival itinerary has been thrown off-course for 2014, with party crew Sancho Panza and Good Times pioneer Norman Jay taking a fallow year. Instead, I’ll be spending my Sunday flitting between KCC And The Rocking Crew (funky house), Rough But Sweet (hosted by Box Fresh and Rinse FM, whose line-up includes big names like Chase & Status, Katy B, Route 94 and Ms Dynamite) and Aba Shanti-l (dub and roots).

Resist the allure of coconut-encased bevvies (there’s usually only a thimbleful of alcohol inside) and Levi Roots’ offerings (overpriced and overrated) and instead stick to Red Stripe, rum punch and the family-run jerk chicken stands. It gets hot in the crowds regardless of the weather, so with the obvious exception of your rainbow feather headpiece, don’t overdress. Essentials are: trainers, a faceful of glitter, plus a decent sized bum bag packed with a bottle opener, hand-sanitiser and tissues. Most importantly, don’t refer to Carnival as The Notting Hill Carnival. Unless you want to be mistaken for David Cameron. Or an American tourist.

Hannah Kane, Editor-in-Chief
There’s a Sancho Panza shaped whole in my Carnival this year with boys taking a year off due to construction work at their usual spot. That said, it’s not like we’ll be spoilt for choice! I’ll be starting down with good vibes at Sunday West where my brother Joel Kane will be getting everyone warmed up, before we head out into the fray. Sunday is meant to be “family day” but in reality most people go in face-first on day one and use Monday as a buffer before going back to work.

Sound system wise, as well as the legendary Aba Shanti-l (dub and roots) who’ve been entertaining crowds since the 70s, I can’t really beat my sister-in-law’s advice, “Channel One for my roots and reggae, Rampage to get my garage girls going, CMC Matrix when my bass face needs to come out and only D&B and old skool jungle will do.”

Be patient at the inevitable roadblocks, stash your cash safely, and dress for dancing. And if it all gets too much: everyone back to mine for rum and Ting.

A bottle opener
Hand sanitiser

A money belt / bum bag
Red, gold, green, glitter, feathers, sequins

Download the app and study the map
Book Tuesday off. Or call in sick
Arrange meeting points in advance, phone reception is going to be sh*t

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