August 30, 2009 / 9:08 PM / 10 years ago

London's Notting Hill aims for quieter carnival

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Thousands of revelers thronged narrow London streets on Sunday to celebrate the annual Notting Hill carnival as authorities ordered a clampdown on deafening sound systems.

Performers dance in the parade during the annual Notting Hill Carnival in London August 30, 2009. REUTERS/Stephen Hird

Organizers were hoping for more than two million people to come and watch performers march in sequins, feathers and body paint to pulsating Caribbean beats over the festival’s two days.

Sunday’s event was dominated by colorful and noisy children’s processions ahead of more intense partying on Monday, a public holiday.

Spectators braved cool, cloudy weather to dance along with the children’s groups, many wearing elaborate costumes in Afro-Caribbean greens, golds and reds.

The carnival takes place in the fashionable west London area portrayed in the film “Notting Hill”, starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts.

From humble beginnings in 1964 it has grown into one of the world’s largest outdoor street parties.

Police and council officials have asked participants to keep more rigorously to a 135 decibel noise limit imposed for the first time last year.

Kensington and Chelsea council said levels of 140 decibels had been recorded at the carnival, equivalent to the noise emitted by a jet engine.

“Not only is the current sound level potentially damaging to the hearing of participants, the noise limit will make it easier for the emergency services to communicate,” it said.

As a further safety measure the procession of parade floats started at 9 a.m., an hour earlier than normal, and will do the same on Monday to allow it to complete the three-mile procession route by nightfall.

The close of last year’s largely trouble-free event was marred as darkness fell by mobs of youths throwing bricks and bottles at police.

Police said they had arrested 20 people before this weekend’s festivities and sent letters to 150 known troublemakers telling them to stay away from the event.

Reporting by Stephen Hird and Tim Castle, editing by Tim Pearce

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