Revelers pack London streets as Notting Hill Carnival celebrates Caribbean culture

LONDON (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of revelers packed the streets of west London on Monday for the climax of the Notting Hill Carnival, one of the world’s biggest celebrations of Caribbean music and culture.

Organizers say up to 2 million people are expected to take in the music, parades, dancing and food over the two days of Europe’s largest street party, which began Sunday with a children’s parade.

The carnival traces its history back to 1958, when Trinidadian human rights activist Claudia Jones began organizing a gathering to unify the community after a series of racist attacks on Black people in the Notting Hill neighborhood.

Launched in 1964 with a few Trinidadian steel bands, it has grown into a huge annual street party involving colorful floats, thousands of calypso dancers in spectacular feathered costumes, almost 20 steel bands and more than two dozen sound systems.

The carnival returned to the neighborhood’s narrow streets last year after two years when it had to be held online because of the coronavirus pandemic.

This year’s event coincides with commemorations of the 75th anniversary of the arrival in England of the Empire Windrush, a ship carrying hundreds of people from the Caribbean to new lives in Britain. The voyage became a symbol of the post-war mass migration that has transformed the U.K. and its culture.

That journey has not always been easy, a fact exposed when some members of the Windrush generation were caught up in a U.K. immigration crackdown that improperly targeted legal residents largely from the Caribbean and other parts of the former British Empire.