CARNIVAL 2003 exploded into spectacular life in town last night.
Hundreds of people enjoyed the annual Festival of Queens in Huddersfield Town Hall.
And today they were joined by many thousands more for Carnival itself, as its parade wound through the town centre and up to Greenhead Park.
More than 10,000 people were expected to pack into the town and the park for the sights and sounds of Carnival.
The Huddersfield Carnival - to be followed tomorrow by the Kirklees Mela - is one of the highlights of the summer.
People have travelled to Huddersfield from the Caribbean and the United States to join families and friends at the event.
Last night's show at the town hall saw nine groups bidding for the honour of selecting the Carnival Queen to lead today's procession.
The winner was Helena Hamlet, of the Caribbean Carnival Crusade Club, who will lead today's procession.
And the club also took the junior section, with Natalie Nelson leading the way.
Both were chosen by a panel of judges who saw entries from the Caribbean Carnival Crusade Club, Education 2000, Leeds West Indian Carnival and the Pure Elegance Children's Club.
Carnival secretary Merilyn Cato- Bedeau said: "The judges were looking for costumes, design, flair and originality. The individual groups could choose their own theme, but they are getting more and more adventurous.
"The designers now travel the world looking for inspiration and return to Huddersfield to try and create spectacular new costumes for Carnival," she added.
"They want to look as grand as possible; it's a chance to show off.
"Huddersfield Carnival is now one of the best in the country. It is a great multi-cultural event.
Tomorrow's Asian Mela is also expected to attract thousands of people.
Two stages will host live entertainment and there are many stalls and attractions.
* Council chiefs have hit back at complaints over the Mela.
They said a protest planned by a community group should not detract from the event.
A council spokesman said: "Suggestions that the Mela has been downgraded are not true. Funding is up, the scale of operation is the same in all respects and all changes from last year have been agreed with the community.
"Cultural Services are far from racist, as alleged."