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Sunday, 27 August, 2000, 19:50 GMT 20:50 UK
Revellers flock to carnival
Notting Hill Carnival
The event is Europe's biggest street festival
The threat of rain failed to deter the 400,000 revellers who flocked to the opening day of the colourful Notting Hill Carnival.

Steel bands, reggae floats and flamboyant costumes were just some of the attractions that drew the crowds to west London for the first day of the two-day Bank Holiday extravaganza.

The multi-cultural event got off to a noisy start with people turning out in their thousands for the children's parade, which was mostly blessed with blue skies through the afternoon.

Young children dressed in orange at Carnival
Carnival welcomes revellers of all ages
Members of the West Indies cricket team, in town for the final Test match this week, joined the party with fast-bowler Curtly Ambrose cooking up some sizzling chicken on the barbecue.

The 36th annual Notting Hill Carnival will feature more than 75 costume bands and two live stages over two days.

Gathering pace

Festivities at Europe's biggest street carnival will continue on Monday, when the event gathers pace with the adult parade.

Fast bowler Curtly Ambrose joins in the fun
Previous festivals have been marred by crime and violence but by 1700 BST on Sunday only four arrests had been made.

A police spokeswoman described the mood as "noisy but good-humoured" and hoped the atmosphere would continue on Bank Holiday Monday.

We are hoping for a peaceful carnival

Scotland Yard
While police estimate that one million people will join the festivities, the organisers believe numbers will top two million over the weekend.

Crime and violence

Previous festivals have been marred by crime and violence.

Last year, a 17-year-old youth was shot in the stomach at one of the many sound systems and two men were wounded in stabbings.

A total of 218 crimes were recorded for the two days, including 16 robberies, four sexual assaults and 25 drugs-related incidents.

A female dancer wearing a costume of white feathers
It is regarded as an exotic and intoxicating festival
More than 7,000 police will be on duty for this year's festival, a Scotland Yard spokeswoman said.

A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said they were well staffed in the event of any trouble.

"We are hoping for a peaceful carnival, but with so many people we can never tell," she said.

Meanwhile detectives have said they are investigating the possibility that a cache of bombs found in woods in Oxfordshire may have been intended for this year's carnival.

The Notting Hill Carnival has its roots in a 1964 street procession aimed at bringing together an Afro-Caribbean community blighted by racism and prejudice.

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See also:

25 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Carnival: The people's party
27 Aug 99 | Entertainment
Carnival time for Notting Hill
31 Aug 99 | Entertainment
Notting Hill - in pictures
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