Brazil gears up for flamboyant Rio Carnival

4th Feb 2014

Festivals and events don't come any bigger or more colourful than Brazil's world-famous Rio Carnival.

Holidaymakers on city breaks to this vibrant metropolis are left spellbound by this five-day celebration of life, which begins 40 days prior to Easter.

This year's carnival will be held between February 28 and March 4, the hottest time in the Southern Hemisphere.

The world's passion for carnival in Rio de Janeiro shows no sign of cooling either.

Last year's event was more popular than ever with 1.5 million flocking to the carnival's oldest street parade: the Cordao do Bola Preta.

This strand of the party sees samba-dancing throngs pack the streets of Rio's business district.

Around 700 other street parties happen throughout the rest of the city.

Every year, the carnival woos an estimated 1.1 million tourists to Rio, including celebrities such as rapper Kanye West, actor Will Smith, and actress Megan Fox.

Carnival 2014 is an important Brazilian showcase, not only for Rio's infrastructure, but also the country's sense of fun ahead of the massive sporting events ahead.

These include the football World Cup this summer and the Olympics in 2016.

Like any street event in Rio it's free, and everyone is invited to party 'til sunrise and enjoy the street bands, samba school processions and balls.

Much of the action congregates around the two main beaches of Copacabana and neighbouring Ipanema.

Ipanema is reportedly less crowded, but Copacabana is the place to be in Rio where caipirinhas - a Brazilian cocktail made from cachaca (rum), fruit juice, sugar and crushed ice - are served.

Rio's tropical climate at this time of the year, with temperatures jumping up to 40C, brings warnings to always use sunscreen, wear a hat and stay hydrated.

Touring party-goers should take in two "must-see" attractions during their stay: a cable car to Sugar Loaf and a train ride through the planet's largest urban forest to see Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado mountain.

Copyright Press Association 2014

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