Rio Carnival 2012, Brazil

Today marks the beginning of Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro Carnival which is one of the world’s most well known and spectacular Carnivals. This annual event is held every February in the Sambadrome – the official samba stadium where the Carnival is held – and attracts millions of visitors from around the world. This year’s Rio Carnival is particularly important as it is hoped that the high numbers of participants and visitors at this year’s event (which is expected to be upwards of five million), will prove that Brazil is capable of hosting multiple events with huge visitor numbers in the near future, with both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games taking place in Brazil.

The Carnival is held before Lent begins (on Ash Wednesday). Traditionally, all food pleasures and festivities are meant to be indulged before the fasting of Lent began. These celebrations and festivities before Lent gave way to many carnivals around the world, including the Rio Carnival, which is said to date as far back as 1723.

The lavish and highly coloured floats are created by local samba schools months in advance for the parade which takes place in the Sambadrome. The samba schools compete against each other with thousands of samba dancers and musicians playing samba or ‘batucada’, as it is known in Rio. Funding for the lavish floats and costumes partly comes from Government grants and subsidies as the Carnival draws in millions of foreigners and visitors every year – potentially, a huge boost to the local economy.

Alongside the Sambadrome parade where visitors have to pay to get in, there will also be several street parties in the city which are a lot less extravagant but where anyone can join in.

Read more about Brazil’s Rio Carnival and how it is an economic boost to the city>>

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