Rio Carnival: In pictures and video - Brazil hosts world's biggest knees-up
Streets across Brazil have been swamped with carnival revellers, with the largest parties attracting more than one million merrymakers.
In Rio de Janeiro, one of the most traditional "bloco" street parties hit fever pitch before noon, with the city's tourism officials saying more than one million people gathered for the bash.
At the Heaven on Earth party in Rio's bohemian Santa Teresa neighbourhood, thousands gathered at dawn.
One of the party's themes this year is a protest against the billions being spent to host the World Cup football tournament. The crowd occasionally chanted: "There will be no Cup! There will be no Cup!"
Carnival runs until today, though parties continue to pop up for a further few weeks.
n defiance of the economic turmoil and political unrest that has marred the country’s image on the international stage in recent months, some regions are visitor numbers to “more than double” this year, in a much-needed boost to the nation’s tourism industry.
The symbolic overseer of Latin American carnivals, King Momo, was crowned by the city’s mayor before the start of the year’s first official samba parade.
According to the city’s tourism board, in Rio alone the Carnival will generate around BRL $950 million (£250 million), three-quarters of which comes from tourists alone.
While locals describe the Rio Carnival as “the greatest show on Earth”, celebrations of one kind or another take place in cities across the whole country.
The north-east region of Brazil as a whole will actually beat Rio in terms of visitor numbers – around 1.6 million tourists are expected, bringing in BRL $1.55 billion (£400 million).
In the state of Bahia – which alone will welcome up to 700,000 tourists – the city of Salvador famously dedicates a 15-miles stretch of its streets to parades, which are free for all to attend.
Sao Paulo’s Carnival is known for its competition for the Samba award, as the city’s dance schools compete to get the most audience members involved.
Ítalo Cardoso, Vice president of São Paulo’s Tourism Board (SPTuris) said that while last year 14,000 people came to the city’s celebrations from abroad: “I believe the number of visitors will more than double this year.”
Another highlight is the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender centre of carnival, Florianópolis. It hosts the famous Pop Gay beauty contest for drag queens and transgender people, attracting between 40,000 to 50,000 people.
In total – and with the added boost of the 2014 World Cup – the Brazilian tourist board is expecting overall numbers of foreign visitors for the year to reach 7.2 million.
More facts about the Rio Carnival 2014:
• Rio Carnival is always celebrated the weekend before the beginning of Lent and ends on 'Fat Tuesday', the day before the start of Lent, Ash Wednesday. The festival dates back as far as 1723.
• There are more than 200 different Samba schools that participate in the Rio Carnival.
• Some of the schools are expected to spend up to £3 million on outfits and preparations, with the city's poorest residents, from the favelas, typically make up the majority of the schools.
• There are more than 2 million people on the streets every day during the carnival.