Video shows huge plume of smoke rising from Hyde Park - but it's nothing to do with a fire

A man smokes cannabis amidst the thousand protesters gathering in London's Hyde Park
It's not the first time smoke has risen from Hyde Park on this particular date -Credit:Lucy North/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Huge plumes of smoke were seen rising from Hyde Park today - that being the 20th day of the fourth month of this year. The beginnings of a wildfire? A mass BBQ event? Or a trade show for wood-burning stoves? It was none of those. If you were there the smell might give it away, along with the conical shape of the rollies being passed around, one toke at a time.

Today was 420 - a day reserved for celebrating the inhalation of marijuana, a plant that calms the body and titillates the mind. Lighting up joints in full view of the police, thousands of revellers descended on the Central London Royal Park to take part in the 'unauthorised event' which demands the illegal Class B drug become decriminalised.

Pot smokers unite for the rally every year on April 20, a reference to the term 420 under the American date system. The origins of 420 are said to come from the time - 4.20pm - when students at a school in California would convene for a search to find an abandoned plot of cannabis plants.

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On Saturday, some attendees wore bucket hats - a significant bit of headgear in stoner culture - as they were joined by the likes of rapper and TV personality Big Narstie. In an Instagram post to his 567,000 followers, the Lambeth-born 38-year-old said: "We're outside yeah. We're outside. Mad." After trying to take a toke, he realised 'Ah s**t, my zoot's still out', then added: "We're just out."

In a video taken by retired Met Police officer Chris Hobbs, thick smoke could be seen rising from the sheer number of lit joints. In a post on X, Mr Hobbs said: "Cannabis smoke rises from the thousands assembled in Hyde Park." In another post, he showed police officers rushing to help a man on the floor who kept 'lapsing into unconsciousness'.

Rapper Big Narstie joined the cannabis celebration at Hyde Park today -Credit:Instagram
Rapper Big Narstie joined the cannabis celebration at Hyde Park today -Credit:Instagram

Police eventually issued a Section 35 dispersal order, forcing the remaining weed enthusiasts to leave. As of this afternoon, the force said one person had been arrested on suspicion of carrying a knife and that five community resolution orders for the possession of cannabis had been issued.

'People may be liable for prosecution or arrest'

Before the event, a spokesperson for Royal Parks said: "The Royal Parks has not given permission for this unauthorised assembly in Hyde Park, and it is in breach of The Royal Parks’ regulations. The Metropolitan Police are aware that this unauthorised assembly is due to take place and have advised that people may be liable for prosecution or arrest.

"Enforcement of the law and of park regulations is a matter for the Metropolitan Police. While the park will remain open, we advise visitors to be aware that this event is taking place and to note that both The Royal Parks Shop and boating on the Serpentine Lake will be closed that day.

"We will continue to work closely with the Police to make sure the Royal Parks remain safe and enjoyable for everyone."

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