Notting Hill Carnival has been cancelled for second year in a row
The biggest street party in Europe will not be taking place again due to increasing concerns about Covid-19
Organisers of the Notting Hill Carnival, which was initially scheduled for August 29th and 30th, have cancelled the event for the second year in a row due to the “ongoing uncertainty and risk Covid-19 poses”, organisers have said in a statement.
Since step four of the Covid-19 guidelines easing has been pushed to July 19th with the spike of Covid cases in the UK, the Board of Notting Hill Carnival Ltd explained that “eventual cancellation was a real possibility.” The delay of “freedom day” means that instead, the carnival will be occurring online.
This marks the second year that the carnival has been cancelled. Last year the carnival, which is normally attended by over two million people, was pushed online and streamed over the August bank holiday on four channels. The board elaborated that this decision was a “difficult one to make” and that the loss would be “devastating.”
Notting Hill Carnival, which has been running since 1966, has now become one of the largest street events, second only to the festival in Rio de Janeiro. However, Matthew Phillip, chief executive of Notting Hill Carnival Ltd, said it would be “very difficult to hold Carnival in its traditional format on the streets with social distancing in place.
“We’ve been planning and weighing up the situation all year but we’ve come to the point where we want definites – and we are not definitely sure it would be safe to be on the streets at the end of August.”
The organisers continued: “In making this decision we have considered our responsibilities to deliver a safe, spectacular, successful and sustainable carnival. Going forward, we will be working with carnivalists toward the greatest-ever Notting Hill Carnival for 2022.”
They have promised to refocus their efforts for the August bank holiday, and London will once again experience the carnival digitally, alongside some smaller events in the run up to the long weekend which will have a controlled number of attendees, according to the BBC.
Few details have been disclosed on how the event will transpire online, but it is speculated that it will take place in a similar format to 2020’s carnival. This includes live broadcasting of events on TV channels and recreating the street party atmosphere by incorporating atmospheres, performances, and authentic Caribbean cook-along shows.
In February, Matthew Phillip announced that the event would not go ahead if Covid-19 restrictions continued, making this year’s cancellation unsurprising. Fans of the carnival took to Twitter, commending the organisation for making the correct decision in terms of public health. Others joked that the cancellation would take a toll on DIY stores as nobody would be buying plywood to board up their shop windows.
Although the news is hard to hear yet again, Phillip has promised that Notting Hill Carnival will make a return because “it means too much not too.” He said: “It’s not like carnival is the only thing cancelled since the pandemic, we’re part of a wider community.
“As with last year we will make sure carnival will be celebrated – it’s not actually carnival because carnival is a street event and if it’s not on the street it’s not carnival – but it will be celebrated.”