London’s Notting Hill carnival on despite riots

London’s famous Notting Hill Carnival, one of Europe’s biggest street parties, is to go ahead despite fears it could reignite rioting that tore through parts of the capital and spread to other English cities last week.

Organisers, who have been holding talks with residents and the police, said on Thursday however that the event would start and finish earlier than usual to give crowds time to disperse.

"Trouble-makers 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 Christopher Boothman co-director of the firm that runs the event.

The two-day carnival on Aug. 28 and 29 is a showcase for African-Caribbean culture and regularly attracts crowds of over one million people who dance and party behind dozens of colourful floats and sound systems.

It takes place annually in the fashionable, and in places upmarket, area of west London portrayed in the film "Notting Hill", starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts.

In the past, the event has been marred by shootings, stabbings, drug-dealing and large numbers of arrests, though it has been largely peaceful in recent years.

"Notting Hill Carnival is one of London’s most important cultural events and to cancel it would have a negative impact on London’s economy and reputation as a centre for successful major events," the organisers said in a statement.

Extra police officers and stewards would be on duty.

Inspired by the Trinidad Carnival, the Notting Hill event was first held in London in 1964 and has grown into one of the world’s biggest, generating tens of millions of pounds for London’s economy.

Festivities usually start on the Saturday of the last weekend in August and run on into the Monday — a holiday in Britain — when the main parade takes place.(Reuters)

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