Notting Hill Carnival 2017, Bacchanalia Mas Band. Photograph By Peter Hogan

Notting Hill Carnival responds to Carnival 2021 inquiries


No earlier than 21 June.According to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, that’s the first date that we can hope to see an end of all current legal limits on social contact. If all goes to plan in reducing the spread of Covid-19 in the UK, nightclubs and theatres will be able to open once again and limits on the numbers of people attending weddings, funerals and other ‘life events’ will be lifted.

The midsummer’s day schedule is dependent on the continued success of the vaccine rollout in reducing the spread of Covid infections – and in some areas of the UK these are still at unacceptable levels or even rising.

The government has revealed plans to test the safety of mass events and venues from April. Volunteers will be used in the tests for concerts, football matches, conferences, nightclubs and theatre performances.


What could this mean for Notting Hill Carnival? Is there a chance that Europe’s biggest street festival ‑ which attracts over 1 million visitors on August Bank Holiday ‑ could go ahead?

Even if the government removes its legal restrictions on big outdoor gatherings of this kind, will the organiser want to give a go-ahead to the event if there’s even the slightest risk that the vaccines fail to control the infection and lockdown has to be reimposed?

It’s clearly a question that Notting Hill Carnival Ltd is being asked regularly. On its website and Twitter account, NHCL replied: “In response to all the enquiries… we are continuing to plan as usual for NHC 2021… and also preparing for every eventuality. Due to the uncertainty we are all facing… our board will not be making a decision until closer to the summer. Please look out for updates here.”

Soca News asked NHCL whether it could provide any more insight into its plans for NHC 2021, and CEO Matthew Phillip replied:


“These are difficult and uncertain times for all. We don’t think it will be possible to make a final decision till at least May, now possibly June in light of the most recent announcement. In the meantime, we will continue to plan for both eventualities while keeping bands/sound systems and artists informed and gathering feedback from them.”

Matthew Phillip, Notting Hill Carnival Ltd, CEO

On 2 February, Matthew Phillip was among event organisers who presented their views to a government inquiry into the future of UK music festivals. A committee of MPs listened to Phillip as he stressed the economic and social importance of festivals to local communities.

Meanwhile, the Reading and Leeds music festivals will go ahead on the same bank holiday weekend, organiser Festival Republic has announced. The twin events attract up to 200,000 people.

What do you think? Would you rather have a carnival this year or do you think we should play safe and wait until 2022?

Let us know in the comments below.  




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