Luton Carnival: Town set for cultural celebration
Thousands of people have lined the streets of Luton for the town's annual international carnival.
Despite a spate of recent shootings in the town, organisers said there was "nothing to suggest the carnival will be targeted in any way, shape or form".
Up to 140 police officers will be on duty throughout the day, supported by the British Transport Police at Luton Railway Station.
Gunshots have been fired at 10 incidents in the town this year.
Ch Supt Mike Colbourne, from Bedfordshire Police, said: "We will maintain a friendly, fair but firm stance to reassure people coming to the town and help them get around safely and easily."'Unique creativity'
In addition, joint organisers Luton Borough Council have employed licensed security staff to provide additional reassurance for the public.
Pax Nindi, artistic director of the carnival, said: "This year's carnival will show off Luton's rich cultural heritage and unique creativity.
"The groups have been working tirelessly to create some truly magnificent costumes this year. Expect a truly spectacular parade."
Once billed as Europe's biggest one-day carnival, the main procession is making its way through the town centre from Wardown Park, in Old Bedford Road, and concludes at St Georges Square at about 15:30 BST.
In 2012, the carnival was moved to July to coincide with the Queen's 60th Jubilee and the Olympic Torch Relay.'Dazzling spectacles'
Organisers said they expected about 50,000 people at the event.
Helen Lax, regional director East for Arts Council England, said: "Luton International Carnival is a stunning blend of street and carnival traditions that all come together in an explosion of colour and sound to create one of the UK's most dazzling spectacles.
"Carnival is a fantastic artform and one that offers audiences the chance to get involved and feel part of the celebratory atmosphere.
"We are delighted to boast such an exciting event in the East region."
Live coverage of the carnival can be heard on BBC Three Counties Radio until 16:00 BST.
- Carnival photographs from BBC Three Counties Radio on Facebook