Every August, the streets of west London are filled with the sounds of steel drums and reggae bands, and with hundreds of thousands of people. The Notting Hill Carnival is a tribute to the area's West Indian heritage – the annual celebration of Caribbean culture was founded in 1966 by West Indian immigrants following the Notting Hill race riots of 1958.

And every August, the newspapers are filled with stories of violence. Four people were stabbed at this year's Carnival, and more than 450 were arrested, mostly for possession of drugs or weapons offences. However, for the vast majority of revellers, Carnival is one long party, a joyous celebration both of Caribbean culture and of London's extraordinary diversity.

These 50 photos really capture the spirit of Carnival: the colourful fun of Children's Day, the glitz and glamour of the parade, the struggle to get anywhere on the tightly-packed streets until you give up and dance to what turns out to be the best soundsystem on the best afternoon you've ever had until it all comes to an end and you wander drunkenly along litter-strewn streets with no idea how to get home. And not caring.

The carnival remains one of Europe's biggest street parties with hundreds of thousands attending each year. It takes place at the end of August on the last two days of a three-day weekend.