UK: Europe’s biggest street party opens at Notting Hill

LONDON

One of the most colorful and biggest street festivals of Europe began in London Sunday with around two million people expected to attend.

The world famous Notting Hill Carnival started earlier than previous years in a sign of respect to victims of the Grenfell Tower Block fire, which claimed at least 80 lives in June.

The carnival opened with a multi-faith prayer and the release of white doves in the early hours of Sunday morning and will last until Monday evening. London Mayor Sadiq Khan visited the carnival site and met family members of Grenfell victims.

Security measures were stepped up by security services ahead of the event and police said they would use face-recognition technology during the festival.

Post the tragic terrorists attacks in London and recently in Europe, the Met thoroughly reviewed policing plans for the event to ensure that everything possible is done to make carnival as safe as can be, a Metropolitan Police statement said last Friday.

"With the tragedy of Grenfell Tower still so raw for the community of West London we have put in place a specific policing operation around that area, police said.

However, tensions ran high with the pre-emptive arrest of more than 600 people prior to the festival.

Thousands of people are expected to hold a minute's silence for the victims of the Grenfell tragedy and for Edson Da Costa, 25, and Rashan Charles, 20, who lost their lives recently in alleged brutality by police.

Both deaths were protested on streets of East London and riot police were deployed to disperse protesters in Forest Gate and Dalston.

The Notting Hill Carnival first started in late 1950s by the British West Indian society and it grew larger every year to become the biggest street party of Europe.

The festival offers West Indian and Caribbean art works, dance shows, food and drink to visitors. This year's carnival will host 37 giant sound systems, floats and steel bands and best of the Caribbean delicacies will be sold at around 300 food stalls.

Thousands of people from around the U.K. and the world visit the carnival every year, with around 2 million visitors expected to attend the event this weekend.

Source: Anadolu Agency