Notting Hill Carnival Returns to London Streets After Hiatus

LONDON — The annual Notting Hill Carnival has returned to the streets of London for the first time since 2019, with more than 1 million people expected to take in the music, spectacular parades, dancing and food offerings at Europe’s largest street party on Sunday and Monday.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, carnivals, which are held every August to celebrate Caribbean culture, were forced to take place online.

The carnival traces its history back to 1958, when Trinidadian human rights activist Claudia Jones began organizing a gathering to unify the community after a series of racially motivated attacks on West Indians in west London’s Notting Hill neighborhood.

This festival has evolved from an event that attracted a few hundred people into a massive annual street party with thousands of performers and over 30 sound systems.

More than 1,000 spectators gathered in West London to witness a competition between steel bands on Saturday night.

Children blew whistles and danced in the streets along with their parents Sunday. This day is traditionally more friendly for families than Monday. A few children waved Jamaican flags as they stood at their doorsteps.

Pepe Francis is the head of the Ebony Steelband Trust. This trust has performed at carnivals for over a decade.

“Since the band has started, I’m on my fifth generation of people and there’s been a lot of changes,” he said. “But our members look forward to carnival every year and practice takes place regularly from year to year.”

“A lot of people have been waiting for it to come back,” Francis added.

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