THOUSANDS of revellers poured into East Oxford yesterday to enjoy music, food and dance at the annual Cowley Road Carnival.

The road was shut from The Plain to Magdalen Road for the festivities as crowds thronged in the sunshine.

Almost 800 people – including school pupils, dancers and musicians – also took to the streets for a colourful parade featuring costumes, booming music and dancing.

Two colourful party-goers take their place in the procession

This year’s carnival theme was Creating Our Future, in honour of Oxford Brookes University, which is celebrating 150 years since its beginning as the Oxford School of Art in 1865.

The university headed up the parade and was one of this year’s lead sponsors, alongside Oxford City Council, Cowley’s Mini Plant and the Patsy Wood Trust.

The 38 groups in the procession imagined different futures they would like to see, with pupils from Cherwell School coming in the colours of the rainbow to support diversity.

Crowds on Cowley Road

Twelve-year-old Eve Lavety, from Cumnor, said: “It’s been really fun dancing and singing, everyone has enjoyed having a laugh.”

Nevaeh Gabbinson, 13, from Marston, added: “There was music playing everywhere, it’s been really exciting.”

Further back was the Larkmead School and its school of samba, alongside teachers and pupils from Oxford Spires Academy.

Cowleyfornia in Union Street

Headington couple Tim and Helen Wright came along to the carnival with their 10-month-old daughter Amaya, who had her own pair of mini ear muffs to dampen the noise.

Mr Wright, 31, said: “It’s the first time we’ve come along, so to see so many people here has been really cool.”

Bill Frizzell joined his two daughters, nine-year-old Ruby, of Larkrise, and Amber, 12, of Oxford Spires, and came dressed as a big bird.

The 57-year-old, of Radcliffe Road, said: “I’m a regular at the carnival and it’s always great fun.

“My wife, Groovy Su, was up all night working on the costumes.”

Nikki Loy, right, on one of the stages

Around the Manzil Way gardens, there were dozens of food and craft stalls, as well as a Body and Soul Garden – a new addition this year – for people to relax in.

And up the road the Union Street car park was taken over to host a stage for live music, fairground rides, a half pipe for skateboarders and even the sandy ‘Cowleyfornia’ beach.

Phil Pritchett said his Oxford percussion and dance group, Sol Samba, had been coming to the carnival since it was started in 2001.

Participants dress in West Papuan costume

Whistleblower and samba band leader Mr Pritchett, 43, added: “This is always a really big weekend for us, but is always massive fun.

“It’s really benefitted from being brought back to Cowley Road, which is where it really belongs.”

Nick Putz of the Oxford Brookes University entry

Organisers were allowed to completely close Cowley Road for the first time in 2004, but it was held in South Park during some years until 2013 when it returned to the East Oxford street.