Thousands Take to Streets for the Notting Hill Carnival

Hundreds of thousands of revelers took to the streets Monday for the climax of the Notting Hill Carnival, a loud, proud and raucous celebration of Caribbean cultures.

The annual two-day festival, which features elaborate floats and processions of brightly dressed calypso dancers, calls itself Europe's largest street festival.

This year's theme, "Set All Free," commemorates the 200 years since Britain's abolition of the slave trade.

Police said about 250,000 people attended the first day of the festival on Sunday, which featured a children's parade. Police estimated 600,000 turned out on Monday, a public holiday, as London enjoyed a sunny long weekend after a summer of rain.

Revelers sampled West Indian food and danced to reggae, soca and calypso rhythms as the procession wound its way through the narrow streets of west London.

"This is London at its best -- people all getting on together," said Chris Jenkins, 35, an IT consultant from London.

The Metropolitan Police said officers had so far arrested 98 people during the carnival. Most of the arrests were for minor offenses, although three people were detained on suspicion of attempted murder after a man was found Sunday with stab wounds. His condition was stable.

The force said there had been 124 reported crimes by Monday afternoon, down from 161 during the same period last year.

Launched in 1964 with a few Trinidadian steel bands, the carnival has grown into a major street event that lures partygoers from all over the world.