Friday, August 27, 1999 Published at 11:08 GMT 12:08 UK
Carnival time for Notting Hill
Dancing in the streets of west London
The Notting Hill Carnival, already Europe's largest street party, promises to be even bigger this year thanks to the hit movie Notting Hill - but the festivities will in fact reflect real-life issues.
The Carnival celebrates its 35th year this weekend. The event has its roots in a 1964 street procession aimed at bringing together an Afro-Caribbean community blighted by racism and prejudice.
The fictional antics of Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts in the comedy set in the trendy west London neighbourhood have done much to popularise the already celebrated area.
A spate of nail bombings earlier this year targeted London's minority communities. The attacks killed three and injured more than 100.
The city's police also came under attack. A report into the Metropolitan Police's handling of the Stephen Lawrence murder uncovered institutionalised racism.
"We are very aware after the Macpherson report that we must improve community relations but carnival is already an area where they are already very good," said a police spokeswoman.
The force will be fielding some 7,500 officers to police the two-day event - which is expected to attract more than 2m revellers.
Carnival organisers say they are supporting efforts to hold a minute's silence for Lawrence, whose racially-motivated murder six years ago highlighted police shortcomings.
"Carnival is about people living together... and that is where non-violence fits in," said Stephanie Harwood from the Notting Hill Carnival Trust.
According to some the festival of music and arts still lacks the support and recognition it deserves.
"It's the premier multi-cultural event in Europe," argues Lee Jasper from the National Assembly Against Racism.
"It is still treated like a cultural interloper... It should be treated like the Henley Regatta or Royal Ascot."
On Monday the adults take over the streets. This year the event boasts three live stages, featuring sets by top Radio 1 DJ Trevor Nelson and performances by Lynden David Hall, Glamma Kid, Jamelia and Nine Yards.
The weekend kicks off with Saturday night's Steel Bands Panorama, with 24 groups vying to be crowned the Notting Hill Carnival Champions of Steel.
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