In its 54-year history, the infamous African-Caribbean culture street party hosted in West London has always gone ahead. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was cancelled this year.
As a result, West London’s August Bank Holiday weekend was an eerily desolate place as the deserted streets usually filled with festival goers, dancers, performers, musicians and artists saw nothing but a few die hard carnival fans who came along in costume anyway despite the cancellation.
There weren’t many, but of the few solitary dancers and revellers who did turn up, they were determined not to let the pandemic break their attendance streakor spirit, with one festival goer stating they’d never missed a carnival and were not about to start now.
These shadows of carnival’s usual glory were a stark reminder how much Covid-19 has affected live events over the course of this year, but it also highlighted the determined spirit of humankind and that this global shutdown is only temporary.
Carnival launched on Friday night with an official countdown on the screens of Piccadilly Circus. The usual parade was held virtually which featured more than 30 traditional street performance groups.
The online event offered up a choice of sound systems and four channels dedicated different aspects of the event including Culture, Parade, Sound Systems and Main Stage.
Anything missed can be enjoyed in retrospect on Carnival’s YouTube Channel.
Carnival director, Matthew Phillip spoke to The Guardian ahead of the event.
“Carnival has such a deep and meaningful significance. This is about marking and remembering why carnival is here, and while we’re not out on the streets and we’re not having that normal celebration, we are marking it and celebrating carnival, but in a responsible way.”
Though nothing can compare to the real-life version of carnival, everyone seemed to appreciate what we allhope is a once in a lifetime effort to bring some form of celebration to this year’s festivities.