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Notting Hill carnival "welcomes the world"

Latest update : 2008-08-25

Despite numerous arrests, the Notting Hill carnival, the world's second biggest after Rio, went off with a bang as thousands of revellers packed the streets of west London, blowing whistles and dancing in the drizzle.

Some 850,000 revellers packed the streets of west London over the weekend as masquerade floats entertained party-goers at the Notting Hill Carnival, Europe's biggest street festival.

More than 200 people were arrested for a variety of offences over the two-day festival on Sunday and Monday, including 19 for possessing an offensive weapon, though many were detained for drug and alcohol-related crimes.

"The number of arrests is up on last year, but that is predominantly because of proactive policing," said Chief Inspector Jo Edwards.

The vast majority of the festival, however, went off peacefully -- massive crowds danced and clapped in the streets to Caribbean music and steel drums, while colourful masquerade floats moved through Notting Hill, with several stalls selling Caribbean food a short walk away.

"It's my first time at the carnival and it has been absolutely amazing," said 24-year-old Kishor Warasani, a student at the University of East Anglia, who lives in east London.

"I love the music and the dancing and I'm definitely going to come again next year.

"The outfits are gorgeous.

"There have been a few problems controlling people though, which I think need to be sorted out."

The festival was launched in 1959 by post-World War II immigrants from what were then Britain's Caribbean colonies, as a community act of defiance following ugly race riots the year before.

It was held in various parts of London before settling permanently in Notting Hill in 1964. The annual event is now the world's second-biggest carnival after Rio de Janeiro.

The festival has been marred by violence in recent years -- last year, two teenagers were shot, while two men were murdered in 2000, and memories of riots in 1976 linger.

Date created : 2008-08-25

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