Revellers have covered themselves in paint as celebrations for the Notting Hill Carnival get underway this morning.
The party atmosphere started early today as the two-day extravaganza kicked off in leafy west London with the sounds of drums and carnival music.
The first day of the party, which will take place today and on Bank Holiday Monday, began with revellers celebrating ‘J’ouvert’ – a Caribbean tradition that marks the ‘opening of the day’ and the start of the carnival.
Joyous congregants were seen smiling as they were covered in paint just after sunrise, with one police officer seen getting in on the fun spraying paint on revellers.
The event, which is in it’s 55th year, is set to see up to two million people take to the streets of Notting Hill – 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
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.
Despite an ongoing rail strike by the RMT over the Bank Holiday Weekend, hundreds of thousands of people are expected to travel into the area to enjoy the festivities.
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
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.
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’.