LONDON – Hundreds of thousands of revelers packed the streets of London for the annual Notting Hill Carnival on Monday, pausing their celebrations to remember the victims of the deadly Grenfell Tower fire.
The Caribbean carnival, billed as Europe’s biggest street party, winds through west London streets near the apartment tower block that was gutted by a June blaze that killed at least 80 people.
The carnival’s floats, steel bands and sound systems fell silent for a minute on Monday afternoon to remember those who died in the fire at a public housing high-rise.
Firefighters, many of whom battled the blaze, stood in a line outside the North Kensington fire station, removed their helmets and bowed their heads, before being applauded by carnival-goers.
Many people in attendance wore green, the color chosen as a tribute to the fire victims. Local lawmaker Emma Dent Coad said there was “a really, really lovely atmosphere.”
The two-day festival opened Sunday with the release of dozens of white doves to commemorate the victims. Participants also held a minute’s silence Sunday for Grenfell.
Launched in 1964 with a few Trinidadian steel bands, the carnival has grown into a major street event that lures partygoers from all over the world with its flamboyant dancers, colorful costumes, rousing steel bands and booming outdoor sound systems.
Security has been tightened this year in the wake of the vehicle and knife attacks across Europe, with steel barriers and concrete blocks around the edge of the route.
Police said they made 106 arrests on the first day of the carnival, more than 40 of them for drug offenses.