The horns, whistles and thundering sound systems of London’s exuberant annual carnival will be silenced for one minute this year.
At 3pm on Bank Holiday Monday 28 August Notting Hill Carnival static and mobile sounds, steelbands and carnivalgoers are being asked to keep quiet as a mark of respect for victims of the Grenfell Tower fire.
The high-rise block, close to the carnival route, was gutted by a blaze on 14 June that cost at least 80 lives.
Organiser London Notting Hill Carnival Enterprises Trust (LNHCET) wants the minute’s silence to create a powerful demonstration of unity and solidarity for, and with, the fire victims and survivors. LNHCET chair Pepe Francis said: “We have been thinking hard about how Carnival can show support for our surviving friends and neighbours, as well as our respect and sorrow for those we have lost.”
A call by London Minister Greg Hands to cancel Notting Hill Carnival completely this year was roundly rejected by London Mayor Sadiq Khan. However, the Carnival community has expressed a strong desire to show solidarity with those affected by the fire. As reported in Soca News, the suggestion for a minute’s silence was made in a Radio London debate on 25 June.
Francis commented: “After all, Carnival is and always has been about togetherness and solidarity. It’s the heart and soul of our community – so it feels right that we continue celebrating the vibrant culture, diversity and unity we all need now more than ever – and that we all pause to think about what’s happened. That’s why we are working with our event managers and all concerned to halt the music at 3pm for a minute’s silent contemplation.”
Up to a million people are expected to attend the two-day carnival, which was first held in September 1966.
By Joseph Charles