Gallery: Rio Carnival in full swing
Rio de Janeiro's four days of pre-Lent festivities hit their peak last night as hundreds of thousands of people flocked to the Brazilian city to watch dazzling dancers in the infamous Samba Parade.
Though Carnival stretches from Saturday through to 'Fat Tuesday,' (the day before Lent begins) the Samba Parade is the climactic event, where 13 samba schools battle it out in flamboyant costumes in the city's purpose-built Samadrome to be crowned the winner across 10 categories.
Rio Carnival is a wild, four day, celebration, taking place 40 days before Easter, and is considered a farewell to the pleasures of the flesh, before Lent commences on Ash Wednesday, during which one is supposed to abstain from all bodily pleasures.
Corporeal excess is embodied in the samba dancers, often wearing nothing more than strategically-placed feathers, and sequin-adorned loin cloths while revelling in the mid-summer heat.
Although Carnival is celebrated in towns and villages across Brazil, as well as other Catholic countries, Rio has long been regarded as Carnival capital of the world, hosting the largest festival and becoming the benchmark against which all others are judged.
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