Brazil’s Carnival kicked off Thursday with millions of people taking to the streets of the northeastern city of Salvador de Bahia to dance and party, effectively putting the nation on a week-long hiatus.
Over the coming days, the festivities will consume the entire country of 193 million people.
The climax arrives Sunday and Monday with Rio de Janeiro‘s extravagant and sexy parades, replete with near-naked dancing queens and over-the-top fantasy floats.
Even the capital Brasilia was suspending political and legislative work, with many lawmakers leaving town to enjoy the celebrations.
“Brazil’s Carnival is a tradition. Nobody can resist the need to be part of it,” the head of the senate, Jose Sarney, said.
Salvador de Bahia, with its heady melange of African rhythms and Portuguese colonial architecture, as usual was quickest to get the party started, playing host to dozens of street dance-and-drinking celebrations Thursday.
Google was inciting envy worldwide by broadcasting the fun there through its YouTube site.
The annual pre-Easter frenzy of non-stop partying, drinking, flirting and concerts in Brazil is a big tourist draw, especially for Rio, where authorities have cracked down in recent weeks and months on criminal gangs to improve the city’s violent image.
Rio will join the festivities on Friday night, like most of the country.
Then, Sunday and Monday, the top Carnival parade groups — Rio’s samba schools — will crown the rejoicing by filing through the 70,000-seat Sambadrome stadium for a global broadcast audience. (more…)
A fire has broken out in the carnival district of the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, destroying warehouses where floats are made, reports say.
At least four warehouses, a samba school and a carnival museum have been damaged in the blaze at Samba City.
It is unclear if anyone was injured in the fire, which spread quickly because of the quantity of flammable materials.
Rio’s world-famous carnival, due to begin on 4 March, attracts thousands of tourists and people from across Brazil.
A large plume of black smoke can be seen above the purpose-built Sambadrome – where the parade takes place – located near the city’s port.
According to reports, the fire erupted well before employees were due at work. No victims have been reported so far.
Some 90% of costumes in the damaged warehouses have been destroyed, according to O Globo.
The president of the samba group alliance – whose schools perform at the carnival event – described the loss as “tremendous“, according to Globo TV’s website.
But he vowed that the carnival would go ahead as planned, even though there would not be time to recreate everything lost in the fire.
“We are heartbroken,” Mr Castanheria said. “Everything was practically ready for the carnival.”
Up to 700,000 international tourists attend the event each year, mainly from the US and Europe.