THE HEART of East Oxford came alive with carnival fever as tens of thousands of merrymakers turned out for Cowley Road Carnival.

Revellers poured into Cowley Road for the street's annual extravaganza as the sunshine beamed down on all.

A short spell of rain failed to dampen spirits as families across the county united for the city's epic street party.

The Lord Mayor of Oxford Mohammed Altaf-Khan donned a Union flag as he led more than 800 energetic performers along the street on his rainbow-splashed giant elephant.

Followed by Pakistani flag bearers and Indian drum players, he well and truly got the party spirit thumping.

Shortly before setting of on his journey along the street, the Lord Mayor said: "This event brings thousands of people together. It's one of the biggest events in the city.

"We are very proud to have ourselves a multicultural event in Cowley Road."

Hundreds of extravagantly-dressed performers spinned, twirled and jigged their way along the main road when the procession began at 2pm.

Crowds of festival-goers lined the street to admire the flamboyant props and technicolour costumes celebrating this year's carnival theme All The World's A Stage, commemorating 400 years since the death of playwright William Shakespeare.

Speaking just before performers set off on their journey down Cowley Road, coordinator Anya Fox said: "I'm really chuffed and happy. This morning was so quiet but gradually the performers started arriving and the atmosphere started building."

Families from far and wide travelled to the beating heart of East Oxford to enjoy the five-hour festivities.

Lukasz Sidor brought his one-year-old son Anthony and young sister-in-law Victoria Jankowiak to enjoy the afternoon fun.

The Berinsfield resident, who used to live in Cowley, said: "It's amazing – music, food and the atmosphere. Everybody smiling is what you want to see.

"This is great for the community. People were enjoying themselves and were cheerful. This is what we need so many times in the year, not just once."

A troupe of 90 papier-mâché pups stole the spotlight early on in the afternoon as they lined the street for their very own spectacle.

The works of art were crafted by Tom Campbell, who aimed to raise awareness of mental health issues alongside Oxfordshire Mind, which has a base in Cowley Road.

Irish artist Mr Campbell said: "I'm relived and happy seeing the big line of dogs."

Staff and students from Oxford Brookes University, which was one of this year's carnival sponsors, joined the street party festivities to celebrate 125 years of nursing education in the city.

Vice-chancellor of the university Professor Alistair Fitt said: "Cowley Road Carnival and the East Oxford Community are so important to Oxford Brookes. The Carnival allows us to connect with local neighbours face-to-face and celebrate what our vibrant community has to offer.

"The Carnival has established itself as an important cultural event for the city and it is one that we are proud to support."