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Monday, October 25, 2021
 
Notting Hill Carnival Monday 2016. CREDIT: VKAMZ

Notting Hill Carnival off the road in 2021 – official

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London’s premier annual outdoor event, Notting Hill Carnival, will not take place on the streets of west London this year, the organiser announced in a statement today. This is the second year in a row that the massive celebration of Caribbean music and culture has had to be taken off the road.

A decision on whether to go ahead had been expected a few days ago but was delayed at the last minute to allow time for the organiser, Notting Hill Carnival Ltd (NHCL), to consult with the mas bands and other participating groups.


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Last month, as the country looked forward to the last Covid-19 restrictions being lifted on 21 June, the way had seemed clear for the return of mas, steelpan and soca to the streets over the August bank holiday. However, the rapid spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant of the virus, particularly among unvaccinated younger people, threw these optimistic plans into reverse.

NHCL said in its statement:

After lengthy consultations with our strategic partners, our Advisory Council and individual participating bands and sound systems, the board of Notting Hill Carnival Ltd… has decided that this year’s Carnival will not be on the streets due to the ongoing uncertainty and risk Covid-19 poses.

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.


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Over the past few weeks, several participants and band-leaders had privately told Soca News that they did not believe that there was time to prepare a band for Notting Hill Carnival 2021 and had already resigned themselves to sitting out another year.

The statement added:

This has been an incredibly difficult decision to make. Everyone involved in the event desperately wants a return to the road where Carnival belongs, but safety has to come first.


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Once again, some form of alternative online event is likely to take place over Sunday 29 and Monday 30 August, building on the success of last year’s ‘virtual’ Carnival, which attracted a large global audience. More details will be revealed in the coming weeks, NHCL promised.

Soca News has been told that hope remains of the National Steelbands Panorama and the London Calypso Tent being held in a more conventional form, as social distancing ought to be possible for static spectator events of this kind.

The organiser ended the statement on an optimistic note, saying it would be working with carnivalists to hold “the greatest ever Notting Hill Carnival for 2022”.


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