Notting Hill Carnival returns after two-year absence

·2-min read

Performers in brightly-coloured costumes have marked the return of the Notting Hill Carnival after a two-year hiatus during the COVID pandemic.

Dancers, brass bands and floats entertained the large crowds in west London on what is known as 'family day'.

Millions of people are expected to attend the festival which in is celebration of Caribbean heritage. The event lasts until Bank Holiday Monday.

There was also a substantial police presence to prevent disorder.

London mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted: "Biggest street party in Europe! And the vibes are immaculate."

He said it had "become one of the world's biggest street festivals and part of the very fabric of this city".

This year's event comes amid a cost-of-living crisis, which Mr Khan said had affected the carnival.

He said: "We are seeing those who want to have floats, those who want to have sound systems, pulling out because they can't afford to pay their bills. It is really important the government steps up."

At the first in-person Notting Hill Carnival since 2019, the 72 people who died in the Grenfell Tower fire were remembered five years on from the tragedy.

Dressed in green T-shirts with "Remembering Grenfell" emblazoned on the back, members of the Emancipated Run Crew running group joined the carnival parade from Great Western Road on Sunday morning in tribute to the victims.

Speaking to the crowd at the start of the route, Grenfell survivor Zoe Dainton reflected on the five-year anniversary.

She said: "June the 14th of this year marked five years since the fire. Five years (and) still no justice, still no charges, not much change."

There was a 72-second silence before the parade began and Ms Dainton cut the ribbon for the runners, marking the official start of carnival.

Jules Stephenson, 48, co-founder of the Emancipated Run Crew, said: "For the last couple of years we have run the carnival route in celebration of Notting Hill and it is just amazing to be part of the opening proceedings this year to also mark the 72 lives lost in the Grenfell tragedy.

"It is really important that we don't forget, that we mark those lives, and we just remember those lives."

The 2020 carnival was cancelled because of COVID, although there were live-streamed events, and last year's carnival did not take place either due to the coronavirus risk.