Revellers have been urged to stay off the streets as the Notting Hill carnival moves online for the first time in its 54-year history.
A decision to cancel the west London street party was announced in May due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Organisers have put together a digital festival, complete with videos filmed all over the world, as well as at venues across London, including the Royal Albert Hall, Abbey Road Studios, Theatre Royal and the Tabernacle.
Matthew Phillip, the executive director of Notting Hill carnival, said people should enjoy the event “at home safely” in order to help protect the future of the carnival.
He said cancelling the carnival had not been an easy decision, adding: “We did it in the interest of safety, so we would urge people to stay at home, stay away from the streets of Notting Hill.
Asked how worried he was about people coming into the area, Phillip said: “Well, obviously we are worried, because people do want to get out and celebrate, but ultimately we hope that people will be responsible and sensible.
“If they really do love carnival, they wouldn’t come on to the streets of carnival. They would want to protect it in the same way that we have as organisers and the carnival community.”
Notting Hill Carnival 2020: Access All Areas will include videos filmed all over the world.
Singer-songwriter Don-E said he was “gutted” about the carnival being cancelled as he had been going to it since the 1980s, but was pleased to be part of the virtual event.
Looking ahead to celebrating at home with his family, he said: “It’s going to be a different one this year, totally unexpected. I’m just going to have to adapt this year.”
The cancellation of Notting Hill carnival comes as more than 1,000 unlicensed music events (UMEs) in London have been shut down since the end of June.
In a statement, the Metropolitan police commander Bas Javid said: “Our approach to policing London during this time has been to engage, explain, encourage and only then enforce, and this will continue across what we believe will be a busy long weekend. We know people will want to be out celebrating the holiday, and we want them to do so safely reminding people of the restrictions which are in place to keep them safe.
“Watch the celebration of carnival from the comfort of your own home, online. We urge people to not come into the traditional area to celebrate; there are no events. Where there are large gatherings of people, officers will be deployed to interact with those gathered.”
Source: The Guardian