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Celebrations to mark the return of Notting Hill Carnival began on Saturday evening as more than 1,000 people gathered to watch the Panorama steelband competition.
The carnival has been online in recent years due to the Covid-19 pandemic but will make its in-person comeback on Sunday and Monday.
Revellers flocked to Emslie Horniman’s Pleasance Park, in west London, to watch a curtain-raiser featuring five steel bands – Mangrove, Croydon Steel Orchestra, Ebony, Metronomes, and Pan Nation.
Defending champions Mangrove have won for three years in a row, and member Joelle Gardiner, 34, said: “It is hard to put into words how good it would feel to win tonight.”
“I have been coming to carnival ever since I was six or seven, watching people play until I was at the age where I could get involved as well.”
Gary Yearwood, 27, from Dulwich, a musician and a regular at the Notting Hill Carnival (Maighna Nanu/PA)PA Wire/PA Images - Maighna Nanu
The return of carnival was exciting for spectators as well as participants and people of all ages were dancing in the streets on Saturday.
Bhavini Goyate, 29, who lives in Harrow, said: “To come back together is so special because a whole community are coming through for this year to come together again.
“This street rehearsal sets off my weekend.
“To convene this way means a lot anyway, but especially after everything we have been through, it means a lot more.”
She added: “I think it’s going to be an amazing emotional weekend.”
Aaron Williams, 28, who also plays in the Mangrove Steelband, said Saturday’s competition was like “Christmas”.
He told the PA news agency: “This is my Christmas, this is my favourite part of the year.
“I’m very excited about it (carnival) coming back, I’ve missed it a lot. It is good to have the vibes back and to see everyone out enjoying themselves.”
Olivia, 34, who did not want to give her surname, travelled from Yorkshire to London for the carnival.
She first attended carnival when she was 14 said that it “feels like an incredible thing that still continues to exist” and is “such an amazing celebration of culture and heritage”.