Notting Hill Carnival cancelled for second year in a row due to Covid

Dancers perform during the Notting Hill Carnival in west London in 2019 before the pandemic (Aaron Chown/PA) Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Notting Hill Carnival has been cancelled for a second year in a row due to Covid restrictions.

Europe's biggest street party, which celebrates its 55th anniversary this year, will once again be a digital event after the easing of Covid restrictions was once again delayed.

The organisers said it was an "incredible difficult decision to make" but that there was too much uncertainty about the event's feasibility this year after Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week delayed the June 21 lifting of remaining social distancing rules until July 19.

Chief executive of Notting Hill Carnival Ltd Matthew Phillip had warned social distancing would be “devastating” for Notting Hill Carnival, which is normally attended by around two million people.

A Notting Hill Carnival performer last year as events were being streamed online. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA

In a statement, the board of Notting Hill Carnival Ltd said it had decided this year’s event in London “will not be on the streets due to the ongoing uncertainty and risk Covid-19 poses”.

“This has been an incredibly difficult decision to make,” the statement added.

“Everyone involved in the event desperately wants a return to the road where carnival belongs but safety has to come first and with the latest cautious announcement on the Government’s road map, this is the only way to ensure that.

A woman in costume heading to take part in the online Notting Hill Carnival, north London, after the 2020 carnival was cancelled Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA

“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.”

Matthew Phillip, pictured with Don-e and Sundivas, said social distancing measures would be ‘devastating’ for the event

Mr Phillip, who is chief executive of Notting Hill Carnival Ltd, told MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee in February: “It would be very difficult to hold Carnival in its traditional format on the streets with social distancing in place. It would be devastating for a second year in a row.”

The carnival dates back to 1959 when it was first held indoors as a celebration for Britain's Afro-Caribbean community.

Street parades began in 1966 and the event usually takes place over the August Bank Holiday weekend.

Second only to Brazil’s Rio carnival in size, the vibrant west London event aims to promote unity and bring people of all ages together.

Notting Hill Carnival has been removed from the streets due to Covid-19 in its 55th year Credit: Hollie Adams/PA

It brings static sound systems, live performances, and stages primarily featuring reggae and punk bands to the streets.

Notting Hill has played host to Jay-Z, Lil’ Kim and Busta Rhymes.

Last year, the first digital version of the event was hosted by radio presenters DJ Ace and Remel London, and was streamed on four channels over the August bank holiday weekend.