The biggest party on Earth

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 February, 2012, 12:00am


Every year before the austere period of Lent, Catholic nations celebrate Carnival. It's a time to party, eat, drink and be merry. The world's biggest carnival is held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where samba schools parade in the Sambadrome and millions of tourists join the fun. Enjoy some of this year's great pictures.

1 and 2 Skulls have been a popular addition to carnival costumes since the 1800s. Devil costumes and donkey outfits were also popular at the time.

3 Samba schools - either actual dance teaching centres, or just groups of dancers - send members and floats to compete with rival schools and be crowned champions.

4 Dancers' costumes are colourful, often featuring glitter, feathers, and spectacular headdresses - and not much more! But total nudity is forbidden.

5 Despite the heat and preference for skimpy costumes, some performers wear more old-fashioned outfits, often based on the humorous Italian tradition of Commedia dell'Arte, like these Pierrot-style clown outfits.

6 The carnival is about being big, bold, confident - and fun!