The Rio carnival is best known for its lithe ladies sporting the skimpiest of outfits.
But the festival of Mardi Gras – or Fat Tuesday – would be inaccurately named those parading in flamboyant Latin style were all skinny.
Among Brazil’s best dancers are the Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel troop pride themselves on being truly larger than life.
Big pride: Members of Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel dance during the Rio carnival
Strutting on board their motorized float, chubby men wear togas while plump women sport little other than matching white bras and Bridget Jones-style granny knickers.
Amid a rainbow of glittering colours, they were among samba groups opening two days of Carnival parades at Rio de Janeiro’s Sambadrome.
The dazzling show that included a rousing welcome for one of the elite bands that lost most of their elaborate costumes and floats in a fire last month.
The Portela group made a dramatic entrance into the throbbing stadium last night, with its 300-strong percussion section abruptly quieting its thundering drums and crouching down in a moment of silence for its losses in the fire.
With silence descending over the crowd for a few seconds, the drummers leaped back up with a raucous beat as Portela's thousands of members marched on to the cheers and applause of fans.
Letting it all hang out: Unashamed of their larger frames, members of the troupe dance with gusto
Larger than life: The revellers wore only slightly more supportive garments than other dancers
Glitzy: The Mocidade Independiente samba school's flamboyant float
‘Our community looks beautiful tonight,’ Portela president Nilo Figueredo said. ‘It is really a community of warriors.’
The fire in early February ripped through warehouses where Portela and two other elite samba groups were preparing for Carnival, incinerating more than 8,000 feather and glitter costumes and many of the big, meticulously decorated floats.
Portela had 3,255 outfits destroyed or severely damaged. Many wondered whether the group, which has not missed a parade in its 84-year history, would be able to put on a show at all. The two nights of lavish parades that began Sunday are watched by millions in Brazil and abroad.
Once the shock passed, however, it became clear the 2011 Carnival would be marked more than ever by the festival's quintessential ability to bring hope and happiness, even if fleeting, to those who have little. It also steeled samba group members' fierce allegiances in a city where fans are as devoted to their groups as they are to their soccer teams.
Flamoyant: Drum Queen Raissa Oliveira of the Beija-flor samba school, left, and a member of Salgueiro troupe
‘We're ready and we're strong - no one is sitting here sad, thinking of what we lost,’ one member, Maria Alice Alves, clad in a metallic silver and blue outfit, said before Portela marched in.
Some longtime members admitted to being a bit anxious about making an entrance that could be marred by what was lost in the fire.
‘Our objective is always perfection,’ said Alessandro Meireles, a 30-year-old who has been a member of Portela's percussion section for a decade. ‘Even if we can't win, we're going to put on the show people expect of us.’
He was referring to the top-tier samba competition, in which groups vie fiercely to have their performance judged the best. There's no cash prize for first place, only a trophy and the bragging rights that last a year until the next Carnival. Portela has won the samba competition 21 times, more than any group, most recently when it shared the title in 1984.
But this year the contest's governing body decided there was no way Portela, Academicos do Grande Rio and Uniao da Ilha do Governador could recover from the fire in time, so they will not be judged. That means they don't risk being relegated to the second-tier samba competition, the fate of each year's last-place finisher.
Impressive: Members of Salgueiro samba school parade on a King Kong float during carnival celebrations
Divine inspiration: The Beija Flor samba school float includes a giant statue of Jesus Christ
It also meant Portela was competing only for pride Sunday night - and celebrating its comeback from disaster.
Police have concluded their investigation and found the fire was accidental.
Nevertheless, it wiped out months of work by the residents of Madureira, Portela's working-class home base, and dealt a devastating blow to the neighbourhood's seamstresses, construction workers and salesgirls who leave behind their workaday lives once a year when they take on their glamorous Carnival alter egos in the Sambadrome.
Bianca Monteiro, 22, recalled how she cried in February when she saw on TV the thick smoke rising from the warehouses.
Now in her fifth year as one of the ‘passistas,’ the fit young dancers who showcase the group's best samba dancing skills, Monteiro feared the worst for Portela, where her father helps keep the 4,000 performers moving along in harmony and six other relatives also parade.
‘We're all blue-blooded to the core,’ Monteiro said, a reference the group's blue and white colours.
Modern Godiva: A near-naked reveller rides a mocked up horse abroad the Vila Isabel float
This year's carnival in Rio could go down as the safest in history.
While nearly 800,000 tourists, Brazilian and foreign, take part in the high-decibel samba extravaganza of the world's biggest Mardi Gras alongside most of Rio's population of six million, this year 50,000 police have been deployed to clamp down on crime in the city.
And for the first time, around 30 surveillance cameras have been installed to improve the monitoring of crowds and make it easier to tackle pick-pocketing and muggings that usually mar the event for a handful of unlucky revellers.
What a spectacle: The Vila Isabel samba school performs during the carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, earlier today
Rio rainbow: Thousands line the streets as the Samba Sao Clemente group parades by. The whole country stops completely for almost a week for the intense carnival festivities
The Rio Carnival is the benchmark against which every other carnival is compared and boasts one of the most spectacular parades in the world.
This year’s carnival began on Saturday with the opening ceremony crowning the carnival king followed by various parades including the Children’s Samba Schools parade.
The biggest cheer was reserved for the appearance of elite samba group Portela, which performed despite losing most of its costumes and floats in a devastating fire.
A blaze in early February tore through the warehouses where Portela and two other samba groups were preparing for Carnival, destroying more than 3,000 feather and glitter costumes and many meticulously decorated floats.
But the group, which has not missed a parade in its 84-year history, put on a dazzling performance.
Sea of colour: The first night of the Rio Carnival parades at the Sambadrome. Scores of people watch the festivities from their balconies
Celebrity hangout: Actress and model Pamela Anderson (left) enjoys the view as the parade passes, while actor Jude Law (right) takes the opportunity to kick back and relax after his recent relationship break-up
Among celebrities spotted joining the party were top model Gisele Bundschen, actress Pamela Anderson and newly single British actor Jude Law.
Some of the revellers say they have already noticed the difference in atmosphere as a result of the police work in the months leading up to Mardi Gras 2011.
'The re-taking of the slums has improved the Carnival atmosphere a lot,' said one Brazilian dancer. 'Before it was a problem, there were muggings, but now people feel much safer,' he said.
Rio authorities are also trying to repair the city's reputation for crime ahead of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.
The knock-on effect is a safer, if just as beautiful and crazy, carnival for everyone.
Fling those beads: Fat Tuesday festivities begin in New Orleans
The Krewe of Mid City Mardi Gras float rolls down St Charles Avenue in New Orleans. The crowds poured onto the Big Easy's streets for the traditional warm-up before the big show on Shrove Tuesday
New Orleans holds the American record for the biggest Mardi Gras celebrations - despite its difficulties over recent years.
Today in the city the warm-up for Mardi Gras is in full swing and people are celebrating the carnival season under clear skies.
After bad weather on Saturday which saw many parades cancelled as thunderstorms swept the state, yesterday crowds poured back onto the streets for the traditional warm-up before the big show on ‘Fat Tuesday’.
The French Quarter, where tourists and long-time regular visitors mix with locals, saw a handful of celebrity-laden parades and the usual revelry.
The temperature will rise further as the Carnival festivity moves closer to its climax. The excesses end at midnight tomorrow with the beginning of Lent.
Temperatures will rise as the Carnival festivity moves closer to its climax of midnight tomorrow, the beginning of Lent
Meanwhile in the UK, Mardi Gras fever has spread to Great Yarmouth, which will host its second Carnival parade.
Local schoolchildren have been making Rio carnival-style masks and headdresses while Lithuanian culture will be represented by a colourful fight between two giant characters, Fatso and Hempen, which symbolise the struggle between winter and spring.
The Big Easy has had it pretty hard over the past five years. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina all but destroyed much of New Orleans. In 2008, its port — at the mouth of the Mississippi — was hit by the economic downturn, and last summer the BP oil spill halted its vital shrimping industry.
And yet . . . walk down Bourbon Street, the backbone of the 18th-century French Quarter and it’s like nothing has happened since these classical terrace houses, with their delicate wrought-iron balconies, were built more than 200 years ago.
On one corner of the street, a band is thumping out jazz and blues. On another, a little boy tap-dances in a pair of old brogues, with flattened Coke cans pinned to the soles.
Soul survivor: New Orleans still beats to its own rythmn
In the Napoleon House, an endearingly shabby 1797 mansion on nearby Chartres Street, they are dishing up jambalaya — a Creole chicken, sausage and rice stew, with spicy Cajun shrimp gumbo.
The shrimping ban in the Gulf of Mexico was lifted in August — the French Quarter bounced back even earlier. Because the colonists wisely built the Quarter above sea level, it didn’t flood when Katrina struck, unlike 80 per cent of the city, which is below sea level and supposedly protected by a series of levees — earth and concrete banks.
When they broke under the pressure of Katrina’s storm swell, the disaster the city had half-expected for decades was wreaked.
Walk round the Quarter, though, and you’ll see little sign of the bad times — apart from this year’s most popular fancydress outfit: a pair of oil-spattered BP overalls.
Peak fancy-dress time is Mardi Gras, or Shrove Tuesday (March 8 this year), a carnival introduced by the French colonialists. For a fortnight before Shrove Tuesday, parades and street parties are held throughout the city.
Bourbon Street is right at the heart of it all; though, beware, it’s also the heart of drunken, if harmless, reveller land — where overrefreshed young women can be persuaded to whip off their tops in return for a string of beads.
Because of its colonial history — first under the French, then the Spanish — New Orleans has a greater European feel than the rest of the U.S.
The Turtle Bay bar, on Decatur Street, is more raucous British pub than American bar. Here’s the place to watch the local American Football team, the New Orleans Saints, who brought a little fairytale cheer to the battered city last year when they won the Superbowl.
Carnival time: Mardis Gras is as vibrant and loud as ever
You can still smoke in Louisiana bars and, boy, do they drink. I watched a Saints game next to a girl in a Shockey 88 American Football top (in honour of Saints’ hero Jeremy Shockey), straddling an open window frame in the Southern heat.
She screamed and swore like a Mississippi tugboat captain, cigarette dangling from her left hand, bottle of Abita beer (good stuff, from Abita Springs, Louisiana) in her right.
Despite the salty language, there was no menace in the air, and absolutely no anti-British feeling after the BP disaster.
One waitress, Deborah Gilchrist, in Fiorella’s on Decatur Street in the French Quarter, told me how proud she was of her British ancestry. She even felt sorry for Tony Hayward, the former BP chief.
You should try Deborah’s etouffee (Cajun shrimp stew) or her red beans and rice, the favourite dish of Bonnie Parker (as in Bonnie and Clyde).
Parker, who’d have turned 100 in October, kept on nipping back home for red beans and rice while she andClyde Barrow were on the run. While you’re in the city, take a Mississippi paddle-steamer up America’s largest river system.
Legacy: While some areas of New Orleans look no different, others are have been reclaimed by nature after Hurricane Katrina
A day trip takes you as far as Chalmette, site of the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, the last great fight between Britain and the Americans — when future President Andrew Jackson thrashed us in the closing conflict of the War of 1812.
‘Old Hickory’ Jackson is commemorated in a spirited equestrian statue in Jackson Square, in the French Quarter. Also in the square is the classical St Louis cathedral and the best historical museum, the Cabildo — a colonnaded, pedimented number, once the seat of government in the Spanish colonial period.
But music is the thing you should really go in search of. If you want to hear the really good stuff, venture out of the Quarter. There are some dangerous parts in New Orleans, but you’ll be fine if you take a ten-minute cab east to Vaughan’s (800 Lesseps St), a jazz bar just like the one in that old Southern Comfort cinema commercial, the now poignant ad where they dance the night away as a hurricane approaches.
In the old slave quarter of Treme — where jazz was born a century ago — you’ll find the Candlelight Lounge, where funeral processions take place on Sundays (like the one in the Bond film, Live And Let Die).
Mourners who aren’t close relatives follow the cortege to one of the city’s elegantly decayed cemeteries, but don’t take part in the actual funeral.
Afterwards, though, they join in the wild wake with effortlessly tuneful abandon.
United spirit: When the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl, the whole city celebrated in the streets
The smarter part of town is the Garden District, all creamy wedding-cake colonial ansions straight out of Gone With The Wind. You’ll pass the upscale restaurant, Herbsaint, on St Charles Avenue, known for sauteed jumbo shrimp with prawns.
As you work on your Louisiana brown Jamaica rice risotto, you’ll see — and hear — the St Charles Streetcar rumble by. There is no streetcar named Desire, but these Twenties timber-and-iron carriages have all the romance and heart-racing, glamorous thrill that Tennessee Williams bottled in the play. The streetcar is only$1.25 a ride.
New Orleans hasn’t completely recovered all its pre-Katrina romance. There are large stretches of the city that remain ravaged by the hurricane
Bathed in spring-like warmth and showered with trinkets, beads and music, New Orleans revelled in the excesses of Fat Tuesday.
A seemingly endless stream of costumed marching groups and ornately-decorated float parades led by make-believe royalty poured out of the Garden District, while the French Quarter filled up with thrill seekers expecting to see debauchery.
And they did.
Flambeaux: Torch bearers march along side the Captain's float in the Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans on Monday night
Some in the Quarter had a sleepless night after Monday's Lundi Gras prequel party.
The drinking was in full swing again shortly after dawn, and with it came outrageous costumes and flesh-flashing that would continue until police make their annual attempt to break up the merrymaking at midnight, when Lent begins.
Tom White, 46, clad in a pink tutu, bicycled with his wife, Allison, to the French Quarter. 'I'm the pink fairy this year,' he said. 'Costuming is the real fun of Mardi Gras. I'm not too creative but when you weigh 200lbs and put on a tutu people still take your picture.'
His wife was not in costume. 'He's disgraced the family enough,' she said.
Brittany Davies struggled with her friends through the morning, feeling the effects of heavy drinking from the night before.
'They're torturing me,' the Denver woman joked. 'But I'll be OK after a bloody mary.'
Indeed, the theme of the day was party hard and often.
Wearing a bright orange wig, a purple mask and green shoes, New Orleans resident Charlotte Hamrick walked along Canal Street to meet friends.
Debauchery: As the day wore on and drinking intensified, the combination encouraged raunchy acts in the French Quarter, where women bared flesh in pleadings for beads tossed to the street by revellers on balconies
Lighting up the night: Flambeaux light the was for the parade route on Lundi Gras
Ominous: Mardi Gras floats in the 2012 Krewe of Proteus Parade on Monday night
Celebrities: Actresses Hillary Swank and Mariska Hargitay toss beads and doubloons to fans as they ride in the 2012 Krewe of Orpheus Parade on Monday night
Drum major: The St Augustine Marching 100, a local high school marching band, takes the streets during Orpheus
Entertainment: Members of the Sirens of New Orleans performance troupe dance in Orpheus
Choreographed: Members of the 610 Stompers performance troupe perform during Orpheus
'I'll be in the French Quarter all day,' Hamrick said. 'I don't even go to the parades. I love to take pictures of all the costumes and just be with my friends. It's so fun.'
Police reported no major incidents along the parade route.
Across the globe, people dressed up in elaborate costumes and partied the day away. In Rio de Janeiro, an estimated 850,000 tourists joined the city's massive five-day blowout. Meanwhile, the Portuguese, who have suffered deeply in Europe's debt crisis, defied a government appeal to keep working.
In New Orleans, the streets filled with hundreds of thousands of people.
The predominantly African-American Zulu krewe was the first major parade to hit the streets, shortly after 8am. Most krewe members were in the traditional black-face make-up and the Afro wigs Zulu riders have sported for decades. They handed out the organization's coveted decorated coconuts and other sought-after trinkets.
In the oak-lined Garden District, clarinetist Pete Fountain led his Half-Fast Walking Club on its annual march to the French Quarter.
Mobs: Mardi Gras revellers jam Bourbon Street in the city's historic French Quarter on Fat Tuesday - the last day of Mardi Gras revelry
Carnival: Festive Rex Parade floats moves through the central business district of New Orleans on Tuesday
Dancing in the street: Dancers wearing gold babydoll outfits march the route of the Zulu parade
Adorned: A member of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club presides over a float during the Zulu Mardi Gras parade, left, and a reveller dresses up in an Indian-inspired costume, right
'Throw me somethin' mister!' The Rex Parade moves through New Orleans as hands wave in the air for beads and doubloons
'Over here!' The float takes a wide turn as revellers shout in hopes of catching a toss
Festive: The Butterfly King float was a new addition to the Krewe of Rex Parade this year
King of Carnival: Beads dangle from wires and revellers shout from balconies as masked members of The Rex Parade make their way through the city
Smiling for the crowd: A man dressed in elaborate costume tosses a bag of purple, green and gold beads to revellers at The Zulu Parade
Tradition: Members of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club march in the Zulu Mardi Gras parade, known for handing out coconuts to lucky parade-goers
Fountain, 82, gave a thumbs-up to start off and his band launched into 'When The Saints Go Marching In' as they rounded the corner onto St Charles Avenue shortly after 7am. It was the 52nd time that Fountain's group has paraded for Mardi Gras. This year, the group wore bright yellow suits and matching pork pie hats for its theme, 'Follow the Yellow Brick Road.'
Costumes were the order of the day, ranging from the predictable to the bizarre.
Wearing a purple wig, New Orleans resident Juli Shipley carried a gallon of booze down Bourbon Street and filled her friends' cups when they got low. 'We're going to wander all day and people-watch,' Shipley said. 'That's the best part of Mardi Gras - the costumes. They're amazing.'
Partygoers were dressed as Wizard of Oz characters Dorothy and the Wicked Witch, bags of popcorn, pirates, super heroes, clowns, jesters, princesses and lots of homemade costumes with the traditional Mardi Gras colours of purple, green and gold.
At New Orleans' antebellum former city hall, Mayor Mitch Landrieu toasted Zulu's monarchs and special guests. Among them was New Orleans native and former U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young who was on a float with National Urban League President Marc Morial, a former mayor of New Orleans, his wife, Michelle, and their two children.
Rolling through: The Zulu Parade continues its route through the central business district
Zulu: The predominantly African-American Zulu Krewe was the first major parade to hit the streets, shortly after 8am
A rider in the Zulu Parade tosses beads as the parade moves through the central business district of New Orleans, Tuesday, Feb. 21
'It's good to be home,' Young said. And saluting the good weather of the day, he added, 'God always smiles on New Orleans when it needs it.'
After Zulu, the parade of Rex, king of Carnival, made its trek down St Charles Avenue and to the city's business district. Along the way, parade-goers pleaded for beads and colourful aluminium coins, known as doubloons.
Small groups of families and friends had parades of their own. The Skeleton Krewe, 25 people dressed in black skeleton outfits, wandered along the parade route, heading toward St Louis Cathedral.
Along the parade route that follows the St Charles Avenue streetcar line, die-hards had staked out prime parade-watching spots as early as Monday. Some had a Carnival-esque tailgate party under way early.
Stephanie Chapman and her family claimed their usual spot about 4am Tuesday and would be staying for the duration.
'This is a beautiful day and we'll be here until it's over. It won't rain on my parade, but if it does I won't pay any attention,' she said.
Rain stayed away and temperatures were in the 70s. As the day wore on and drinking intensified, the combination encouraged raunchy acts in the French Quarter, where women bared flesh in pleadings for beads tossed to the street by revelers on balconies.
Celebrating: Bathed in spring-like warmth and showered with trinkets, beads and music, New Orleans revelled in the excesses of Fat Tuesday
Rhythm: A seemingly endless stream of costumed marching groups led by make-believe royalty poured out of the inner-city
All in fun: Police reported no major incidents along the parade route
By mid-afternoon, some folks were tuckered out.
Alison Scott, 35, of New Orleans, was part of a group that had a small city of tents and canopies set up at Lee Circle. She and her family had been coming to the spot for about 40 years. "Believe me, I'm always glad to get here and then I'm always glad to go home," she said.
Her 6-year-old daughter, Shannon, was asleep nearby under a blanket of beads.
'She just pooped out. This is the first time she's stopped. She's been so excited all day,' Scott said.
In the Cajun country of southwest Louisiana, masked riders went from town to town, making merry along the way in the Courir du Mardi Gras. And parades were scheduled elsewhere around Louisiana and on the Gulf coasts of Mississippi and Alabama.
The celebration arrived in Louisiana in 1682 when the explorer LaSalle and his party stopped at a place they called Bayou Mardi Gras south of New Orleans to celebrate.
Parading and street revelry would give way to Mardi Gras' elegant side, with the lavish and private grand balls of the Rex and Comus krewes on Tuesday night signalling the traditional end of the celebration.
Mardi Gras gives way to the beginning of Lent, the period of fasting and repentance before Easter Sunday.
Carnival Season have been appearing that I just had to feature more of them today, including scenes from New Orleans, Spain, Germany, and Brazil. Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, and Carnival celebrations have now come to a close. Across Europe and the Americas, parades and festivals have been taking place for nearly a month, culminating in the largest, most famous party of all: the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In Rio this weekend, millions took to the streets for days of rowdy, joyous parades and festivities, bringing the nation to a halt for its annual wild party.
Across Europe and the Americas, parades and festivals have been taking place for nearly a month, culminating in the largest, most famous party of all: the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In Rio this weekend, millions took to the streets for days of rowdy, joyous parades and festivities, bringing the nation to a halt for its annual wild party. Nearly 800,000 Brazilian and foreign tourists were expected join Rio's six million residents in the celebrations, whose climax comes on Sunday and Monday with the city's top samba schools putting on their extravagant processions. Gathered here are recent images of carnivals around the globe. A dancer from the Mocidade samba school parades on a float during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on February 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
A dancer from the Mocidade samba school parades on a float during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on February 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
A member of from the Diablada Urus group, dressed as an angel, during the Carnival parade in Oruro, some 200 km (124 miles) south of La Paz, on February 18, 2012. Partying and religion mingle in Bolivia's Carnival celebration in Oruro, a mining and commercial city of more than 200,000 people. (Reuters/David Mercado) #
Performers from Diablada group wearing bear costumes take part in the carnival parade in Oruro, Bolivia, on February 18, 2012. (Reuters/David Mercado) #
A masked reveller in costume walks near the Piazza San Marco during the Venice carnival, on February 18, 2012. The 2012 edition of the Venice Carnival runs from February 4 to 21 entitled this year "Life is theatre! It's time to get masked". (Andrea Pattaro/AFP/Getty Images) #
People gather to watch a woman dressed in a traditional costume descend from the bell tower into Piazza San Marco, during the "Angel's flight", one of the highlights of the Venice Carnival, in Venice, Italy, on February 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Luigi Costantini) #
People play in the mud during the "Bloco da Lama," or "Mud Block" carnival parade in Parati, Brazil, on February 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana) #
A crowd takes part in the traditional "Cordao do Bola Preta" carnival band parade along Rio Branco avenue, in downtown Rio de Janeiro, on February 18, 2012. (Vanderlei Almeida/AFP/Getty Images) #
A dancer from Mocidade samba school parades during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, on February 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana) #
Carnival dancers perform on a float during a parade by the Perola Negra samba school in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on February 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) #
A dancer performs in a carnival parade by the Perola Negra samba school in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on February 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) #
Revellers of Rosas de Ouro samba school wait their turn on the opening night of parades at the Sambadrome, as part of Carnival celebrations in Sao Paulo, on February 18, 2012. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images) #
Dancers perform on a float during the parade of Mancha Verde samba school in Sao Paulo, on February 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) #
A dancer performs in the parade of Mancha Verde samba school in Sao Paulo, on February 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) #
A Candombe dancer performs during Las Llamadas or parade of The Calls in Montevideo, Uruguay, on February 10, 2012. A feature of the Montevideo Carnival, Candombe is an Afro-Uruguayan rhythmic style music, which is based on the sound of three types of tambores or drums: its roots can be traced back to the 1700's when African slaves were brought to Uruguay. (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico) #
A dancer and drummers perform along the streets of the "Sur" neighborhood during the second night of the "Llamadas" (Calls) parade of the carnival of Montevideo, on February 10, 2012. The "Llamadas" is Uruguay's biggest carnival parade, in which "comparsas" -- groups of dancers and drummers of the traditional "candombe" music -- compete for two consecutive nights. (Pablo Porciuncula/AFP/Getty Images) #
A person in a mask poses in Piazza San Marco during the Venetian Carnival in Venice, on February 11, 2012. (Reuters/Stefano Rellandini) #
LaToya DeLeon presents her creation titled "Heat Wave-The Last Of The Phenomenal Havoc," on the stage at Queen's Park Savannah, during the preliminaries of the King and Queen of Carnival competition in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, on February 9, 2012. (Reuters/Andrea De Silva) #
A masquerader parades on stage at the carnival individual competition at Victoria Square, in Trinidad and Tobago, on February 16, 2012. Picture taken February 16. (Reuters/Andrea De Silva) #
People take part in the 128th Nice carnival on February 18, 2012 in Nice, France. (Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images) #
The parade of the 128th Nice carnival in Nice, France, on February 18, 2012. The parade celebrates the "King of Sport", with some 20 floats and running until March 04, 2012. (Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images) #
A costumed woman takes part in the 128th Nice carnival, on February 18, 2012 in Nice, France. (Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images) #
The King of the Nice Carnival 2012's float parades during the 128th edition of the Nice Carnival, on February 18, 2012, in Nice, France. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau) #
Dancers perform during a carnival parade in Barranquilla, Colombia, on February 18, 2012. Barranquilla's Carnival, a tradition cretaed by locals at the end of the 19th century as a response and to parody the celebration held by European immigrants and aristocracy, was declared a "Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" by the UNESCO in 2003. (Luis Acosta/AFP/Getty Images) #
A woman applies make-up for carnival celebrations in Barranquilla, Colombia, on February 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara) #
Revellers wait before their performance at a carnival parade in Barranquilla, Colombia, on February 19, 2012. (Reuters/Joaquin Sarmiento) #
Renascer Jacarepagua samba school parades at the Sambadrome, in Rio de Janeiro, on February 19, 2012. Rio's two nights of famously extravagant Carnival parades began in a burst of fireworks and to the cheers of festival goers who have been partying on the streets for days. (Vanderlei Almeida/AFP/Getty Images) #
Revellers from the Portela samba school parade on the first night of the annual Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome, on February 19, 2012. (Reuters/Nacho Doce) #
A dancer of Beija Flor samba school parades during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro,on February 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana) #
The Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school, during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, on February 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana) #
A member of the Mocidade samba school parades on the first night of the annual Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome, on February 20, 2012. (Reuters/Ricardo Moraes) #
Dancers from the Imperatriz samba school, during the first night of carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, on February 20, 2012. (Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images) #
A reveller of Camisa Verde e Branco samba school adjusts her costume before the opening night of parades at the Sambadrome, in Sao Paulo, early on February 18, 2012. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images) #
A dancer of the Porto da Pedra samba school parades on a float at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, on February 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana) #
Revellers from the Renascer de Jacarepagua samba school take part in the annual carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome, on February 19, 2012. (Reuters/Ricardo Moraes) #
A member of the Beija-Flor samba school dances on a float at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, on February 20, 2012. (Antonio Scorza/AFP/Getty Images) #
Revellers from the Beija Flor samba school perform at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, on February 20, 2012. (Vanderlei Almeida/AFP/Getty Images) #
A dancer from the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school, on a float during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on February 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana) #
Dancers of Uniao da Ilha samba school parade on a huge float during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on February 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Revelers participate in a masked ball during the "Carnival of All Colors" in Maragojipe city, northeastern Brazil, on February 21, 2012. (Reuters/Ueslei Marcelino) #
A masked participant during celebrations of the "Carnival of All Colors" in Maragojipe city, Brazil, on February 19, 2012. (Reuters/Ueslei Marcelino) #
Masked party-goers share a moment during the "Carnival of All Colors" in Maragojipe city, on February 21, 2012. (Reuters/Ueslei Marcelino) #
People watch as a masked reveler take part in the "Carnival of All Colors" in Maragojipe city, on February 19, 2012. (Reuters/Ueslei Marcelino) #
Crowds congregate on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter to celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans, on Friday, February 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman) #
Actor and comedian Will Ferrell tosses beads and doubloons to fans as he reigns as King of Bacchus in the 2012 Krewe of Bacchus Parade, on February 19, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Skip Bolen/Getty Images) #
A member of the Kolossus performance troupe rides a converted bicycle during the Orpheus Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans, Louisiana, on February 20, 2012. (Reuters/Lee Celano) #
The Ambassador float makes its way down Jackson Avenue, on February 21, 2012 in New Orleans. (AP Photo/The Times-Picayune, John McCusker) #
Fleambeaux Carriers march alongside the Captain's float in the Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans, on February 20, 2012.(AP Photo/Bill Haber) #
A couple costumed in horse masks dance on Bourbon Street as part of the Mardi Gras celebrations in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana, on February 20, 2012. (Reuters/Lee Celano) #
Actress Mariska Hargitay rides in the Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans, on Monday, February 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Bill Haber) #
The Rex Parade moves through the central business district of New Orleans, on February 21, 2012. This is the last day of the Mardi Gras celebration ending at midnight, after a day long celebration of parades, marching groups and people in costumes. (AP Photo/Bill Haber) #
People throw talcum powder at one another as they take part in the carnival "Los Indianos" (the Indians) in Santa Cruz de la Palma, on the Spanish Canary island of Las Palma, on February 20, 2012. (Desiree Martin/AFP/Getty Images) #
A sculpture of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy burns in a bonfire during the Carnival celebrations in Vigo, northwestern Spain, on February 21, 2012. (Miguel Riopa/AFP/Getty Images) #
A child blows a kiss during the carnival parade in Torres Vedras, Portugal, on February 21, 2012. The Portuguese government's attempt to make people work more by scrapping the traditional Carnival holiday has flopped as most companies and public services shut down despite an economic crisis. (AP Photo/ Francisco Seco) #
"Gilles" in traditional costume parade during the carnival in the streets of Binche, Belgium, on February 21, 2012, during Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras). The Binche Carnival tradition is one of the most ancient and as representative of Wallonia, was inscribed in 2008 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. (Benoit Doppagne/AFP/Getty Images) #
Parade floats make their way through the Mardi Gras parade in downtown Crested Butte, Colorado, on Fat Tuesday, February 21, 2012. (AP Photo/Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Nathan Bilow) #
Musicians dressed for carnival perform at the Luzern-Carnival in Lucerne, Switzerland, on February 16, 2012. The history of Lucerne's carnival can be traced back over more than 600 years and is best known for its individually hand-crafted masks and costumes paraded in the town's streets and squares by thousands of revellers during the three-day carnival festival. (Reuters/Michael Buholzer) #
Musicians dressed for carnival perform at the start of the Luzern-Carnival in Lucerne in the early morning hours of February 16, 2012. (Reuters/Michael Buholzer) #
Ben wears a "King Frog" costume as he attends the traditional Rose Monday street carnival parade in Mainz, Germany, on February 20, 2012. The Rose Monday parades in Cologne, Mainz and Duesseldorf are the highlight of the German street carnival season. (Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach) #
A scary musician holds some flowers during the traditional carnival parade in Cologne, Germany, on February 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner) #
A masquerader participates in the Jouvert celebrations, a revellery of music, mud and paint which marks the start of the two-day Trinidad Carnival street parade, in the capital city Port of Spain, on February 20, 2012. (Reuters/Andrea De Silva) #
A member of Mohacs Busok (Mask-people from Mohacs town) steps out from their local base on February 21, 2012 prior to their carnival masquerade. The Busojaras (Hungarian, meaning "Buso-walking") is an annual celebration of the Sokci (Croatians) living in the town of Mohacs, Hungary, held at the end of the Carnival season and ending the day before Ash Wednesday. The celebration features Busos and includes folk music, masquerading, parades and dancing. (Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images) #
A reveler wearing sheepfur costume with horns and a mask stands by a bonfire as revelers burn a coffin symbolizing winter during the traditional carnival parade of the town of Mohacs, on February 19, 2012. (AP Photo/MTI, Ferenc Kalmandy) #
A masked reveller participates in the traditional Buso Carnival in Mohacs, on February 19, 2012. The carnival parade of busos dressed in similar costumes and frightening wooden masks, using various noisy wooden rattlers is traditionally held on the seventh weekend before Easter to drive away winter, and is a revival of a legend, which says the ethnic Croats crossed the river to ambush the Osmanli Turkish troops, who escaped in panic seeing the terrifying figures during the Turkish occupation of Hungary. (Reuters/Bernadett Szabo) #
The Mangueira samba school parades during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on February 21, 2012. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano) #
People cheer from the stands as the Salgueiro samba school parades during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, on February 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano) #
A reveller from the Sao Clemente samba school takes part in a parade on the second night of the annual Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome, on February 20, 2012. (Reuters/Ricardo Moraes) #
Members of the Unidos da Tijuca samba school dressed as birds perform on a float during the second night of carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, on February 21, 2012. (Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images) #
The Grande Rio samba school parades at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on February 21, 2012. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano) #
Members from the of Salgueiro samba school parade on a float during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, on February 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana) #
Dancers from the Salgueiro samba school take part in a parade on the second night of the annual Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome, on February 20, 2012. (Reuters/Ricardo Moraes) #
Revelers cheer at the Beatles-themed street party, "Sargento Pimenta," Portuguese for "Sergeant Pepper," at the Aterro do Flamengo urban park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on February 20, 2012. The group that organizes the party gives the Beatles repertoire a Brazilian tweak, adapting "All My Loving" to the peppy beat of a traditional Carnival "marchinha," or march, and infusing "Hard Day's Night" with a Rio funk sound. (AP Photo/Dado Galdieri) #
A dancer of Mangueira samba school dances on a giant float during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, on February 21, 2012. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana) #
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A topless dancer of the Salgueiro samba school parades on a carnival float at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, on February 21, 2012. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana) #
Revelers from the Academicos do Grande Rio samba school perform during the second night of Carnival at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, on February 21, 2012. (Vanderlei Almeida/AFP/Getty Images) #
Dancers from the Uniao da Ilha samba school parade in the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, on February 21, 2012. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo) #
Women dance during the carnival gay and lesbian ball at the Jockey Club in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on February 21, 2012. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano) #
Revelers from the Unidos da Tijuca samba school participate in the second night of the annual Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome, on February 21, 2012. (Reuters/Ricardo Moraes) #
A dancer from the Sao Clemente samba school smiles after parading during the second night of carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, on February 20, 2012. The processions were held before a stadium crowd of 70,000 and an international broadcast audience. (Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images) #