Colourfully-dressed revelers partied under umbrellas and raincoats on Monday as the grand finale of London’s Notting Hill Carnival was hit with stormy downpours of rain. The crowds refused to let the weather spoil the party as they drank beer and rum and ate traditional Caribbean food beside a parade of steel bands, colorful floats and processions of exotic dancers. Known as Europe’s street party, the festival celebrating Caribbean culture was expected to draw around one million people.
Dancers in elaborate costumes and feathered headdresses shimmied through the streets of west London, some improvising with umbrellas and plastic ponchos as British capital was hit by the equivalent of almost half a month’s average rain.
The festival featured 60 bands playing different music styles and dozens of mobile systems pumping out music along a five-kilometer parade route. The Carnival began in the 1960s when Notting Hill had a large population of immigrants from the Caribbean and was notorious for its slums, a far cry from today when it is one of London’s most expensive districts. But the festival has become known for sporadic gunrelated violence and thefts. Police made more than 290 arrests over the festival for offences including theft, drugs, assault and possession of weapons.
One 19-year-old man was brought to hospital with stab wounds, and three 18-year-old men were arrested in connection with the incident, police said. Authorities also seized counterfeit and over-proof alcohol, which typically contains more than 50 percent alcohol volume, including spirits, beer and champagne with a street value of over £30,000 at the event ($46,000, 41,000 euros). The London ambulance service, which treated people for falls and a glass injury, urged revellers to “please drink alcohol sensibly”. — AFP