Latin America & Caribbean

Brazil carnival: Party season begins in Rio

Rio de Janeiro"s Mayor Eduardo Paes (2nd R) hands over the city"s ceremonial key to the Rei Momo, or Carnival King Wilson Neto (L) at Cidade Palace in Rio de Janeiro Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Carnival began in Brazil with the handing of a key to King Momo, who presides over the event

Five days of dancing, drinking and spectacular costumes have begun in Brazil as the country's carnival season gets under way across the country.

Celebrations in Rio were kicked off when the city mayor handed a symbolic key to the Carnival King, known locally as King Momo.

Around one million tourists are expected in Rio alone for the event.

It comes a difficult time for Brazil, with the country facing water shortages and concerns over the economy.

Big-selling masks this year are reportedly those of President Dilma Rousseff and Maria das Gracas Foster, former chief executive at the corruption-mired Brazilian energy giant Petrobras.

In Rio and Sao Paulo, much of the focus will be on the famous Samba school competitions.

The top schools face off against each other, trying to win points in categories like percussion and dancing enthusiasm.

Image copyright AP
Image caption After handing over the key, Rio mayor Eduardo Paes danced with the carnival queen
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption For much of Brazil, celebrations take the form of block parties
Image copyright AP
Image caption Nun outfits were popular at this parade, a joke about even those in holy orders wanting to join the party
Image copyright AP
Image caption Foreign tourists are expected to join Brazilians for the celebrations, a big boost to the economy
Image copyright AP
Image caption An estimated 450 parties are planned in Rio with many more around Brazil
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Carnival ends on Tuesday

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