‘This has been an incredibly difficult decision to make’
The organisers of the Notting Hill Carnival have decided this year’s event “will not be on the streets” because of the pandemic for the second year in a row.
Alternative events “that allow everyone to safely celebrate everything” are being drawn up. The event, which usually draws crowds of around two million, was hosted online last year due to the pandemic.
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.
“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.”
Organiser Matthew Phillip had warned that social distancing rules, which have been due to end from 21 June but have been extended, would make it near impossible for the event to go ahead. He 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.”
The three-day celebration of Caribbean culture sees millions come together to enjoy music, dancing, food and drink in west London. The event is also a legacy to the Windrush generation – the capital’s first carnival was held in 1959 to champion the local community’s culture following a series of racist attacks and rioting.
Notting Hill Carnival is the second biggest carnival in the world, surpassed only by Rio’s in size.