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Notting Hill Carnival: Revellers celebrate Caribbean culture at Europe’s largest street party

Vincent Wood
Getty

Sunshine, song and poignant silence greeted revellers at the first day of Notting Hill Carnival as Europe’s largest street party gets underway.

More than a million people are expected to attend the carnival over the course of the weekend, celebrated by its organisers as the country’s "biggest celebration of culture, diversity and inclusivity".

And attendees of the carnival’s family day, the traditionally less crowded of the two, were met with the hottest bank holiday weather on record. Meteorologist Steven Keats recording temperatures of 32C around the event – up on the previous highest recorded temperature of 31.5C in 2001.

He said: "It's looking like this is one of the hottest carnivals ever.

"Tomorrow looks like it's going to be hot again, so I would urge people to stay safe in the sun, drink plenty of water and enjoy themselves."

The event, set up to celebrate Caribbean culture, was established in 1966 as an offshoot of the Trinidad Carnival – growing from a day attended by 500 to a bank holiday extravaganza with around 50,000 performers and speakers that line the streets of west London.

But despite its reputation for noise, the event fell silent at 3pm - part of a recently established tradition where attendees hold 72-seconds of silence in memory of the 72 people who were killed in the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017, half a mile from the parade route.

(EPA)

The carnival is being watched over by some 12,500 Metropolitan police officers, assisted by an increased number of metal-detecting screening arches to deter and detect attendees with offensive weapons.

The increased use of the arches, which were first deployed in 2018, follows a surge in rates of knife crime across the capital over the last year.

(PA)

During last year’s carnival two people sustained non-life threatening injuries after being stabbed, while some 45 police officers were injured overall across the course of the weekend.

However one element of the police force’s presence that has not returned is their dancing shoes.

(PA)

Several officers have become viral sensations after joining in with revellers and performers during the event, a carnival tradition that stretches back into the 1970s.

However uniformed police this year have been told to instead remain vigilant and focus on keeping carnival-goers safe.