Revelers enjoy the return of the Notting Hill Carnival

Celebrations marking the return of the 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 for the past few years due to the Covid-19 pandemic but will return in person on Sunday and Monday.

Revelers flocked to Emslie Horniman’s Pleasance Park in west London for a curtain raiser featuring five steel bands – Mangrove, Croydon Steel Orchestra, Ebony, Metronomes and Pan Nation.

Defending champions Mangrove have won for three consecutive years, and member Joelle Gardiner, 34, said: “It’s hard to say how good it would be to win tonight.”

“I’ve been coming to carnival since I was six or seven, watching people play until the age when I could get involved too.”

Gary Yearwood, 27, from Dulwich, musician and regular at Notting Hill Carnival (Maighna Nanu/PA)

The return of the carnival was exciting for spectators and participants alike and people of all ages danced in the streets on Saturday.

Bhavini Goyate, 29, who lives in Harrow, said: “Coming back together is so special because a whole community is coming together this year to come together again.

“This street rehearsal triggers my weekend.

“Coming together this way means a lot anyway, but especially after everything we’ve 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: “It’s my Christmas, it’s my favorite part of the year.

“I’m very excited for this (carnival) to come back, I’ve missed it a lot. It’s good to get back into the mood and see everyone having fun.

Olivia, 34, who did not want to give her surname, traveled from Yorkshire to London for Carnival.

She first attended the carnival when she was 14 and said it ‘looked like an incredible thing that continues to exist’ and was ‘such an incredible celebration of culture and heritage’ .