London's Notting Hill Carnival goes online

London's Notting Hill Carnival goes online

The organisers of Europe's biggest street party, London's Notting Hill Carnival, have decided to take the event off the streets in its 55th year.

The move comes after the delay to Britain's COVID-19 'freedom day', which had been due on June 21, means social distancing measures are still in place – something which organiser Matthew Phillip had warned would be “devastating” for the iconic event.

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

In a statement, the organisation's board 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 said.

“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.”

Mr Phillip, who is chief executive of Notting Hill Carnival Ltd, told MPs on Britain's 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”.

The three-day spectacle of music, dancing, food and drink is rooted in Caribbean culture.

Second only to Brazil's Rio carnival in size, the vibrant west 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 punk bands to the streets.

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

Last year, the first digital version of the event was streamed over the public holiday weekend at the end of August.

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