World News‎ > ‎

Festival fever hits west London

posted 26 Aug 2012, 13:13 by Mpelembe   [ updated 26 Aug 2012, 13:13 ]

Revellers let loose on the first day of Europe's largest street festival in Notting Hill, carrying forward celebrations from the Olympics and Paralympics as well as the anniversaries of independence for Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.

LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (AUGUST 26, 2012) (ITN) - A sunny day in London reflected the mood of the hundreds of thousands of revellers dancing in the streets on Sunday (August 26) at the Notting Hill Carnival, Europe's largest street festival.

Over a million people are expected to visit the two-day carnival, which runs into the UK's August bank holiday.

Sunday, the first day of the carnival, is traditionally the day where children take centre stage, and this year is no exception as many lined the parade route through the streets dressed in a variety of loud and colourful outfits.

Festival organiser Lewis Benn said the atmosphere was the best part of the whole weekend.

"Today, this morning, J'ouvert kicked it all off -- fantastic people, dubber in paint, as I'm sure you would've seen -- and the children now have taken to the street in their droves, and it's a fantastic atmosphere, leading on from the celebratory atmosphere from the Olympics," he said.

Notting Hill has often had problems during the Carnival with violence and drugs, although an increased police presence and greater cooperation between the organisers and local authorities have led to a decrease in disturbance in the recent year.

More than 5,000 police officers were deployed on Sunday to keep the Carnival-goers safe.

Metropolitan Police Commander Christine Jones said trouble had so far been kept to a minimum.

"It's going really well. There have been some busy points -- we've had three arrests so far today, which is, as you can imagine, not a huge number considering are here, but we've arrested people for possession of drugs, somebody who stole a motor vehicle and another offence. But so far it's been pretty peaceful. We hope to see that that continues throughout today and tomorrow," she said.

Questions about how the festival is organised and how it could be improved are also perennial issues.

However Benn said this year the organisers have attempted to bring in greater outside expertise to help with next year's Carnival and beyond.

"We've got a new Carnival trust in place as of three months ago, the London Notting Hill Carnival Enterprises Trust -- made up of the five arenas, and also for the first time we've employed the assistance of an events managing company, to help do all the production and look at the commercial aspects of the Carnival for next three years. So it's a unique scenario for us," he said.

"We've gone into a bit of the unknown, but it's something we're excited about; how we look to develop the artistic form moving forward," Benn added.

The 2012 Notting HIll Carnival runs until Monday (August 27).