Rio de Janeiro, carnival capital of the world
Carnival occurs every year in Catholic countries around the world, but celebrations in Rio de Janeiro take it to another level. The Rio carnival is the biggest in the world, attracting around 500,000 visitors each year.
Zika virus not spoiling the party
Despite the Zika virus epidemic, thousands of tourists gathered in Rio for this year's carnival celebrations, which come to an end on Tuesday.
Rio's unique celebrations
Carnival is a wild five-day party celebrated before the beginning of Lent, when Catholics are supposed to abstain from all bodily pleasures. The concept of carnival was first introduced by the Portuguese in 1850. Over the years, traditions in Brazil acquired elements from African and Amerindian cultures, making Rio's carnival celebrations among the most distinctive in the world.
The samba schools are key to Brazil's carnival celebrations, with each school representing a particular neighbourhood, usually a working-class favela. Each school's parade is highly organized, involving thousands of singers and dancers decked out in elaborate costumes.
A highlight of the Rio carnival is the Samba parade, a fierce competition between Rio's samba schools. Preparations for the parade begin months in advance, with each school choosing a theme and a song as well as designing their own costumes and floats.
Street bands and block parties
Block parties take place throughout towns and neighbourhoods in Brazil during carnival. Here, people participate in an annual block party known as Ceu na Terra (Heaven on Earth) on Feb. 6, one of many parties in the neighbourhoods of Rio de Janeiro.
Every neighbourhood in Rio has its own carnival street band (or bands) to take part in huge processions. People gather at a well-known spot, like a square or a local bar before the band leads a parade full of samba revellers dressed in costumes and bathing suits, some even in drag. This town's carnival is far from the glitz and glamour of Rio de Janeiro's famous Sambadrome parades.