Notting Hill Carnival cancelled for second year running due to Covid

18 June 2021, 10:15 | Updated: 18 June 2021, 16:31

London's iconic Notting Hill Carnival has been called off for a second year running
London's iconic Notting Hill Carnival has been called off for a second year running. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Notting Hill Carnival has been cancelled for the second year running on its 55th year due to coronavirus.

The organisers announced on Friday that they have decided to take the event off of London's streets once again.

It comes as the delay to "Freedom Day", which had been due on 21 June, means social distancing measures are still in place - something which organiser Matthew Phillip had warned would be "devastating" for Europe's biggest street party.

Notting Hill Carnival, which was forced online last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, is normally attended by around two million people.

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," the statement added.

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"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 road map, 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 on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee in February: "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."

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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.

It brings static sound systems, live performances, and stages primarily featuring reggae and masquerade bands to the streets.

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

Last year, the first digital version of the event was hosted by radio presenters DJ Ace and Remel London, and was streamed on four channels over the August bank holiday weekend.