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Although other Catholic countries around the world celebrate the days before Lent in a similar way, no other carnival celebration can even begin to rival that in Rio – it’s considered the largest in the world, hosting around two million attendees.

And much of the five-day party’s legacy is down to the Rio’s samba schools and their world-class entertainment – basically, if the word ‘carnival’ makes images of colour, chaos and dancing pop into your head, it’s probably the schools’ parades you’re thinking of.

You have to see them to feel the full impact.

Rio carnival

Indigenous leaders parade with the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school (Picture: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)

Rio parade crocodile float

Yes, this is a giant crocodile float (Picture: VANDERLEI ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)

Essentially social clubs representing different Rio neighborhoods, each school spends the year prior getting themes, music, floats and costumes ready for the big event.

And there certainly isn’t a shortage of samba schools in Rio – there are currently more than 300 of them based there, a number which increases year by year.

Rio carnival outfit

The samba schools prepare their costumes and music all year round (Picture: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)

Rio carnival character costumes

Traditional carnival characters on the Rio street (Picture: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)

Rio festivities kicking off early on Friday

Festivities kicking off early on Friday (Picture: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)

So it’s not surprising that if you if you ever pop down to the carnival yourself, you’d better like samba, as it makes up pretty much all of the music there.

During the festivities, each band involved gets its own street to parade on, while for the big ones, entire streets are closed to traffic.

You can only imagine how the city comes to a standstill.

Performers from the Paraiso do Tuiuti samba school parade on a float during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Mauro Pimentel)

The Paraiso do Tuiuti samba school parade (Picture: AP Photo/Mauro Pimentel)

Rio carnival

The Grande Rio samba school (Picture: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)

A woman takes a photo of the Beija Flor samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Mauro Pimentel)

Partiers trying to take photos of the Beija Flor samba school (Picture: AP Photo/Mauro Pimentel)

And besides the samba school parades, street parties, processions and balls take place across the city starting from Friday 24th February right up until Tuesday February 28th this year – which is also called 'Fat Tuesday' thanks to the vast quantities of delicious foods consumed.

A member of the Unidos de Vila Isabel samba school

A member of the Unidos de Vila Isabel samba school (Picture: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)

Performers from the Beija Flor samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Mauro Pimentel)

The Beija Flor samba school (Picture: AP Photo/Mauro Pimentel)

Brazilian actress Viviane Araujo performs with the Academicos do Salgueiro samba school

Brazilian actress Viviane Araujo (Picture: VANDERLEI ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)

 

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