Carnival parades kick off in Brazil

Street parade ... millions of people take part annually in Brazil’s carnival parades, held in Rio, Sao Paulo and Recife. Picture: AFP/Nelson AlmeidaSource: AFP

DANCERS on stilts, bare-chested cowboys, Carmelite nuns and plenty of bare flesh have flooded Rio’s streets as revellers cranked up the volume at Brazil’s intoxicating carnival festival.

Hoards of residents and tourists cast aside their cares on Saturday to drink from the joyous cup of carnival, considered the greatest show on Earth according to those who live in the “Marvellous City.”

King Momo ... Carnival monarch Wilson Dias da Costa Neto receiving the keys to the city during the official launch of the 2015 Carnival in Rio. Picture: AFP/Vanderlei AlmeidaSource: AFP

Millions of people were expected to take part in the street parade in Rio, an annual celebration since 1918.

Having partied into the night after carnival “monarch” King Momo declared the five-day party open Friday, party-goers were revved up at dawn, many decked out in the distinctive black and white polka dot outfits emblematic of Rio’s oldest street party group Cordao da Bola Preta.

In Sao Paulo, revellers let their hair down as a tidal wave of people joined the party fray overnight. Picture: AFP/Nelson AlmeidaSource: AFP

A dancer with the Aguia de Ouro samba school performs during the first night of carnival parade in Sao Paulo. Picture: AFP/Nelson AlmeidaSource: AFP

The decibel count was steadily growing by mid-morning, and the air was filled with the distinctive orchestral samba blend of drums, shakers, bells, colourful beaded gourds and countless guitars and brass.

Other cities also held their own festivities, notably Sao Paulo and the northern city of Recife, where some two million people were expected to join in the revelry.

Shake it off ... a dancer from the Nene de Vila Matilde samba school performs in Sao Paulo. Picture: AP/Andre PennerSource: AP

The Recife parade, which attracted a street party world record 2.5 million people two years ago, occurs every carnival Saturday in the Sao Jose district of the city.

In Sao Paulo, revellers swapped their usual stiff attire in Brazil’s more staid business hub to let their hair down as a tidal wave of people joined the party fray overnight.

Other cities also held their own festivities, notably Sao Paulo and the northern city of Recife. Picture: AP/Andre PennerSource: AP

A performer from the Academicos do Tucuruvi samba school at the Anhembi Sambadrome in Sao Paulo. Picture: AFP/Nelson AlmeidaSource: AFP

Rio authorities hope up to five million people, including around one million tourists, will enjoy the action through Tuesday and splurge up to US$500 million ($645 million).

Spectacular ... Brazil’s intoxicating carnival festival has begun. Picture: AFP/Nelson AlmeidaSource: AFP