London’s Notting Hill Carnival, Europe’s biggest street festival, is to go ahead later this month, organizers said Thursday, despite calls for it to be cancelled following riots which swept across London last week, Agence France Presse reports.
But the two-day annual celebration of Caribbean culture will finish three hours earlier than normal amid extra security, following talks between organizers and the police.
The carnival, which can bring more than a million people onto the streets of west London, will start at 9:00 am (0800 GMT) and end at 7:00 pm (1800 GMT) on August 28 and 29, to allow crowds to disperse before darkness falls.
London’s police increased their numbers on the streets from 6,000 to 16,000 to quell the frenzy of arson, looting and violence which broke out in the capital last week and the carnival presents the police with an additional security headache.
The event, which has witnessed rioting before, normally takes 6,000 officers to police, with public order and street crime a regular issue. Last year, 283 people were arrested.
Police have already made around 100 pre-emptive arrests of individuals and gang members suspected of plotting trouble at this year’s event.
Organizers said they had received a lot of support from people who felt the carnival was an uplifting event that should not be scuppered by the actions of a minority.
“Troublemakers or those who seek to cast a shadow over this vibrant event are not welcome and shouldn’t be allowed to spoil it for thousands of others,” said carnival co-director Christopher Boothman.
“We want everyone to come early, enjoy carnival and get home safely.”
The carnival was itself founded in response to the Notting Hill riots of 1958, which saw violence flare between whites and immigrants from the West Indies.
Photograph by Guy Carpenter at http://www.redbubble.com/people/gullwingphoto/art/6527274-notting-hill-carnival-gold-man