Notting Hill Carnival cancelled for second year running due to COVID

·3 min read

Notting Hill Carnival - Europe's biggest street party - has been taken off the streets for the second year running because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, the annual event, which normally draws crowds of around two million people over the August bank holiday, will again be held online as it was in 2020.

The move comes after the four-week delay to easing COVID-19 social distancing restrictions on June 21 in England, which the government said was needed to give more time for people to receive coronavirus vaccinations in the face of the rapidly spreading Delta variant, first identified in India.

In a statement, the board of Notting Hill Carnival Ltd said it had decided this year's event in London "will not be on the streets due to the ongoing uncertainty and risk COVID-19 poses".

"This has been an incredibly difficult decision to make," it added.

"Everyone involved in the event desperately wants a return to the road where carnival belongs but safety has to come first and with the latest cautious announcement on the government's roadmap, this is the only way to ensure that.

"In making this decision, we have considered our responsibilities to deliver a safe, spectacular, successful and sustainable carnival.

"The conclusion is that with so much uncertainty, with time short for carnivalists to prepare and the risk of eventual cancellation a real possibility, we must refocus our efforts for 2021."

Mr Phillip, who is chief executive of Notting Hill Carnival Ltd, told MPs earlier this year: "It would be very difficult to hold carnival in its traditional format on the streets with social distancing in place. It would be devastating for a second year in a row."

The three-day spectacle of music, dancing, food and drink is rooted in Caribbean culture, and has also been influenced by the Windrush generation.

Second only to Brazil's Rio carnival in size, the vibrant north London event aims to promote unity and bring people of all ages together.

Notting Hill has previously played host to Jay-Z, Lil' Kim and Busta Rhymes.

Last year, the first virtual event was hosted by radio presenters DJ Ace and Remel London.

Following the announcement on this year's event, Cllr Emma Will, Kensington and Chelsea Council's lead member for culture, leisure and community safety, said: "Although this comes as a disappointment, we completely support the Notting Hill Carnival organiser's decision to move carnival online once again.

"This was no easy decision to make but the latest updates from the Government suggest that the ongoing risks due to COVID-19 are too high to put on an in-person celebration this year.

"Health and safety remain a top priority for us and it is important that we look after the wellbeing of our residents and visitors. We still plan to celebrate this momentous event with virtual activities to take place over the carnival bank holiday weekend.

"We are committed to supporting this celebration and making it as fun, magical and as safe as possible."

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