Flamboyant revellers today marked the start of the Notting Hill Carnival as they readied themselves to enjoy two days of music, dance and festivites over the August Bank Holiday weekend.
The party atmosphere started early as festivalgoers started filling the streets of west London at the break of down, before kicking off the festivities, which are expected to draw in more than two million visitors across the weekend.
The first day of the party saw revellers celebrating the ‘J’ouvert’ – a Caribbean tradition that marks the ‘opening of the day’ and the start of the carnival.
Attendees were seen enjoying the paint-splattered ceremony – as one police officer was even pictured joining in with the fun by squirting a bottle over purple paint over the crowd.
The event, which is now in it’s 55th year, is set to see huge crowds take to the streets of Notting Hill, in what is the second biggest gathering of its type behind Rio Carnival in Brazil.
A woman reacts after being covered in paint during the ‘JOuvert’ celebrations at sunrise during Notting Hill Carnival
A police officer with splashes of paint on him squirts paint at revellers during sunrise celebrations
A paint splattered man enjoys the start of festivities at the J’Ouvert ceremony at Notting Hill Carnival
Dancers put on an impressive display as the festivities opened with the Children’s Day Parade
The festival kicked off with an impressive Children’s Day Parade
Costumed dancers prepare to kick off the festivites with the Children’s Day Parade
While the official opening ceremony of the carnival isn’t until 10am, those gathering in Notting Hill haven’t waited before getting the party started.
Just before sunrise revellers gathered outside the Sainsbury’s in Ladbroke Grove to mark ‘JOuvert’, before dancing, celebrating and getting messy with colourful paints and powders being thrown into the air and at each other.
Video shows one steel drum band playing on the back of a lorry slowly making its way down the roads of Notting Hill at 7am, with a handful of early risers seen dancing along to the tropical sound.
The main event today will be the Children’s Day Parade, which will see young people dancing through the streets in colourful costumes.
There will also be Dutty/Fun Mas, a gathering which will see participants and spectators splashed with brightly coloured paints and powder.
In the afternoon there will be live music on stage playing a variety of genres ranging from Reggae and Rare Groove to House and Samba.
Tomorrow the full adults parade will take place and will see thousands of men and women wind their way through the streets to music as the carnival reaches its climax.
Meanwhile the weather is colder than usual, with highs of just 19C expected today and a chance of showers in Notting Hill this afternoon. Tomorrow is set to be slightly warmer with a high of 21C and a little more sunshine.
A group of revellers dressed in costumes gather for the start of the two-day extravaganza in west London
A reveller smiles as their face is covered in paint during the first moment of the 2023 Notting Hill Carnival
Men splashed with paint take part in early morning street parties as the carnival gets underway
Revellers covered in paint walk through Notting Hill this morning
Women dressed in ponchos covered in paint spray the substance at other people this morning
A man with a water gun sprays paint in the early morning sunshine
Painted revellers enjoy the festivities at Notting Hill Carnival
Dancers wearing colourful costumes put on a display for the Children’s Day Parade
Festivalgoers donned impressive costumes as they made their way to the Notting Hill Carnival
Crowds spilled into the streets of Notting Hill as visitors enjoyed the festivities
Notting Hill Carnival is Europe’s biggest street festival and is set to 1million visitors over the Bank Holiday weekend
The carnival started as an indoor celebration from 1959 to 1966 by Trinidadian communist Claudia Jones in response to the Notting Hill race riots in 1958.
The murder of aspiring Antigua lawyer Kelso Cochrane spurred on Rhaune Laslett to organise a children’s street fayre that ended up being the first outdoor carnival in 1966.
The event has sparked some local businesses to board up their shops as they close for the weekend, with graffiti artists already tagging and painting on the plywood.
There have been complaints from residents in recent years about anti-social behaviour from people attending the event.
Last year, police made 209 arrests at the carnival for offences including criminal damage, common assault, drug possession and possession of an offensive weapon. Drill rapper TKorStretch, real name Takayo Nembhard, 21, was also stabbed to death, while two female cops were sexually assaulted.
A man in a suit enjoys the JOuvert at Notting Hill Carnival
Paint splattered revellers enjoy the JOuvert ceremony
Drummers march through the streets to celebrate the Children’s Day Parade
Costumed children prepare for Notting Hill Carnival’s Children’s Day Parade
Costumed dancers take to the streets in Notting Hill
Paint splattered revellers enjoy the start of the Notting Hill festival
Costumed dancers pose for a photo at Notting Hill Carnival
Costumed dancers enjoy the festivities at Notting Hill Carnival
Huge crowds gathered in the streets of West London as Notting Hill Carnival prepared to host more than 1 million visitors
In advance of the carnival’s commencement today, the Met Police tweeted yesterday: ‘We have highly visible police presence within the area of Notting Hill with the #NottingHillCarnival23 this weekend.
‘Please enjoy the carnival safely – but if something doesn’t feel right, speak to an officer, safety steward or dial 999 in an emergency.’
Munian Barakat, who lives in the area and is originally from Palestine, told The Sun that the front of her building and her front door gets used as a toilet, and rubbish is thrown over her fence.
‘That’s why I asked the neighbours to put up the wooden barriers because it’s really dangerous,’ she said. ‘I’m an old woman.’
Ms Barakat is going to her daughter’s house for this year’s carnival but is worried she may come back to find her ‘house destroyed or the windows broken’.