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Notting Hill Carnival organisers “confident” of 2022 return

Notting Hill Carnival could return to the streets of London in 2022 according to Matthew Phillip, CEO of Notting Hill Carnival Ltd. Phillip commented on the development while speaking to the PA, and the news should allay fears that carnival-goers will find themselves in a similar spot this time next year.

“We’re very confident about coming back next year although we are not 100% back to normality. … The situation is a lot different to what it was in 2020.”

Matthew Phillip

The physical cancellation of Notting Hill Carnival for the second year running is being felt by long time carnival-goers – and it’s not just those in the capital either. Its 54 year streak was snapped following the onset of the pandemic, and last year saw organisers offer a credible digital experience to inspire some sense of celebration and belonging.

Doubts over whether it would run in a traditional format stretch as far back as February. Phillip had warned that the absence of the festival for a second year would be “devastating”, and his analysis of its impact on local stakeholders has yet to change.

 “The impact of Notting Hill Carnival not being on the streets for two years has hit the street food vendors, bands and individuals who make it the spectacle it is hard, but it was important that we were not on the streets this year both for the safety of everyone but also the long-term future of Notting Hill Carnival itself.”

A matter of consistency

As the last 18 months have borne witness to, the importance of safety cannot be emphasised enough. Nevertheless, there is still disappointment with questions on whether more might have been done to allow traditional celebrations to take place in some capacity, however scaled down. Not least when concerted efforts have been made, and provisions put in place, to encourage the opening of nightlife venues that have long been touted as being “super-spreader events”. The Reading and Leeds festivals have also been given the go ahead for this weekend.

It’s something to think about.

We know that health comes first and that the effects of COVID-19 are still being felt – this cannot be ignored. There’s also the question of whether a scaled down Carnival with restrictions would really be the same. Would it be? Probably not, no, but other events have been given the opportunity to make it work, a luxury not afforded to the most celebrated Caribbean and increasingly African infused event of the year.

Perhaps at some point, we’ll learn more about what the conditions for what a restructured Carnival looked like and whether provisions could have been made to facilitate some version of it this year. Still, It is frustrating when the inconsistency of government-sanctioned restrictions sees a predominately black event bite the bullet.

Alternative events

As for alternative events, YAM Carnival is one option to consider this bank holiday weekend. Also keep an eye out for ‘An ode to Notting Hill Carnival’, a photographic exhibition running from 29th August – 1st September. It’s been organised by Rio Blake and features go-to photographers such as Javanie Stephens who kindly provided the image to this article *pictured top*.

Mayowa Ayodele

Home of black politics

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