Notting Hill Carnival kicks off in sweltering heat

Revellers have kicked off Notting Hill Carnival in style amid sweltering temperatures.

The streets along the route in west London were awash with colour as hundreds of thousands of partygoers enjoyed the beginning of the long-standing celebration of Caribbean heritage in the capital.

Almost 12,500 police officers and some 1,000 stewards will be in place across the two-day event to ensure a “safe and spectacular” festival, with the mercury forecast to rise to 32C (89.6F).

Around one million people are expected to flock to the west of the capital on Sunday and bank holiday Monday for the carnival, which has been running for more than 50 years.

Dancers perform during the Children’s Day parade
Dancers perform during the Children’s Day parade (Victoria Jones/PA)

Organisers have described it as the UK’s “biggest celebration of culture, diversity and inclusivity”, and promised this year’s will “once again be full of vibrant colours, incredible music and dancing”.

Onlookers gathered on pavements in the strong sunshine as the community celebration began carving its way around west London in a mass of music, dancing and bold costumes of neon Lycra and brightly-coloured feathered headdresses on Sunday morning.

After what Metropolitan Police hailed as a successful use of screening arches – used to detect offensive weapons – for the first time at the carnival in 2018, there are “significantly more” dotted around the area this year.

Scotland Yard has not said how many arches are being used or where they are positioned, but described them as a “fantastic deterrent”.

The force, which has had to respond to a spate of stabbings across the capital in recent years, admitted last year that not everyone attending the event would pass through the screening facilities.

Dancers during Notting Hill Carnival
The streets along the route in west London were awash with colour (Victoria Jones/PA)

In 2018 there were two non life-threatening stabbings over the carnival weekend and some 45 police officers were injured.

The force said it will be “taking every step to make sure that doesn’t happen this year”.

Carnivalgoers have been advised to be prepared for very hot weather by taking water or refillable bottles and downloading the official carnival app to keep up to date with the location of medical points and food stops, and to get updates on transport delays.

Temperatures had already topped 27C (80.6F) in west London by 11am, the Met Office said.

Forecaster Craig Snell said: “People certainly need to bring plenty of water with them and slap on the suncream.”

Again this year there will be 72 seconds of silence on both days in memory of those killed in the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017. The tower block is within half a mile of the parade route.

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