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In PHOTOS: Sizzling carnival party on Rio's streets

Last updated on: March 8, 2011 08:53 IST

In PHOTOS: Sizzling carnival party on Rio's streets

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Brazil's most famous party, the annual Carnival of Brazil, took off on March 4.

This year the festivities will continue till Tuesday. The parades are watched by millions in Brazil and abroad.

Click on NEXT to see PHOTOS of the carnival...


Image: Drum Queen Luiza Brunet of the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school participates in the annual Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome
Photographs: Sergio Moraes/Reuters
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In PHOTOS: Sizzling carnival party on Rio's streets

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Parades filled with dance, concerts and extravagant costumes fill the streets. The celebrations are influenced by local folklore, cultural nuances and religion.


Image: Revellers of the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school participate in the annual Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome
Photographs: Sergio Moraes/Reuters
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In PHOTOS: Sizzling carnival party on Rio's streets

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The nights of famously extravagant parades began with a burst of fireworks and to the cheers of festival goers who have been partying on the streets for days. The processions, featuring dancing queens, spectacularly imaginative floats and thousands of extras, were being held before a stadium crowd of 70,000.


Image: Revellers of the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school participate in the annual carnival parade
Photographs: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters
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In PHOTOS: Sizzling carnival party on Rio's streets

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A month after a fire destroyed many of the lavish costumes of a samba group, it became clear the 2011 Carnival would be marked more than ever by the festival's quintessential ability to bring hope and happiness.


Image: Revellers of the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school participate in the annual Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome
Photographs: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters
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In PHOTOS: Sizzling carnival party on Rio's streets

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Top samba schools perform dances at the celebration and they are pitted against one another in competition to be Carnival Champions.


Image: Drum Queen Luiza Brunet of the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school participates in the annual Carnival parade
Photographs: Sergio Moraes/Reuters
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In PHOTOS: Sizzling carnival party on Rio's streets

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The bottom placing two schools can't participate in the following year's competition, it is of cultural significance that each school receives enough points based on music, timing, and visual appearance.


Image: Revellers of the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school participate in the annual Carnival parade in Rio
Photographs: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters
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In PHOTOS: Sizzling carnival party on Rio's streets

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Nearly 800,000 tourists, Brazilian and foreign, were taking part in the extravaganza alongside most of Rio's population of 6 million, turning the place into bohemian sprawl buoyed by high-decibel samba music.


Image: The annual carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome
Photographs: Ricardo Moraes/Reuters
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In PHOTOS: Sizzling carnival party on Rio's streets

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As the Carnival kicked into high gear, extra police ensured the safety of those participating in the event billed as the Greatest Party on Earth.


Photographs: Ricardo Moraes/Reuters
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In PHOTOS: Sizzling carnival party on Rio's streets

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The Carnival is rooted in ancient Roman and Greek culture, when a celebration would be held to mark the coming of spring. For some groups, Carnival is much more than a symbol of culture; it is an expression of freedom.


Photographs: Ricardo Moraes/Reuters
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In PHOTOS: Sizzling carnival party on Rio's streets

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Each area of Brazil has a slightly different means of celebrating. Though unsaid, there is always a competition as to which city parties hardest. This originated in the 18 century, and the organised competitions are one of the most appealing parts of Carnival, even today.


Image: A reveller of the Vila Isabel samba school participates in the annual Carnival parade
Photographs: Ricardo Moraes/Reuters
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In PHOTOS: Sizzling carnival party on Rio's streets

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The colorful procession by the Unidos de Tijuca samba school wowed a crowd of 70,000 packed into Rio's Sambodrome stadium from late Sunday. It was one of six shows put on in an all-night climax to Rio's Carnival partying.


Photographs: Sergio Moraes/Reuters
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In PHOTOS: Sizzling carnival party on Rio's streets

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Unidos de Tijuco is the reigning parade champion, having carried off last year's event with a pastiche of stage delights, including Batman on skis and a Michael Jackson impersonator dancing on a float inhabited by aliens. This year, the school was looking to outdo itself with its long bow to US blockbusters.

Thus the school put its $5 million parade budget to innovative use.


Image: A reveller of the Unidos da Tijuca samba school
Photographs: Sergio Moraes/Reuters
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In PHOTOS: Sizzling carnival party on Rio's streets

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Incredible time and effort goes into making the spectacular costumes and floats.


Photographs: Sergio Moraes/Reuters
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In PHOTOS: Sizzling carnival party on Rio's streets

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Drum Queen Sheron Menezes of Portela samba school participates in the annual carnival parade in Rio.

Elaborate multi-tiered floats feature in the parades. Colossal effort goes into designing the parades.


Photographs: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters
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In PHOTOS: Sizzling carnival party on Rio's streets

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The celebration of Carnival was brought over to Rio de Janeiro by the Portuguese around 1850, and since then, Brazilians have adopted traditions that encompassed different periods of time and different cultures, spanning from African to Indo-American.


Photographs: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters
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In PHOTOS: Sizzling carnival party on Rio's streets

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Brazilian soccer player Ronaldinho dances with members of the Portela samba school during the annual Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome.   

During his performance he stopped to say hello to Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen and give her American football player husband, Tom Brady, an awkwardly long handshake.


Photographs: Ricardo Moraes/Reuters
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In PHOTOS: Sizzling carnival party on Rio's streets

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For the majority of those taking part in Rio's Carnival, though, the attention was on fun, leaving behind the grime and grind of ordinary living for a five-day frenzy of drinking, kissing, dancing and beach-going.


Image: Revellers of the Portela samba school participate in the annual Carnival parade
Photographs: Ricardo Moraes/Reuters
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In PHOTOS: Sizzling carnival party on Rio's streets

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Preparations for the parades go on all year round, with the event finishing on Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday -- what we call Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day!


Image: A reveller of the Portela samba school participates in the annual Carnival
Photographs: Sergio Moraes/Reuters
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