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Rio Carnival 2013
A reveller from the Jacarezinho samba school takes part in the first night of the A Group annual Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome February 8, 2013. The Samba School which wins the A Group will parade with the top samba groups at the Special Group performance in 2014.REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes
Rio Carnival 2013
Drum queen Gracyanne Barbosa from the Jacarezinho samba school dances during the first night of the A Group annual Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome February 8, 2013. The Samba School which wins the A Group will parade with the top samba groups at the Special Group performance in 2014.REUTERS/ Ricardo Moraes
Rio Carnival 2013
A seller of beverages dances as the Jacarezinho samba school starts to parade on the first night of the A Group annual Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome February 8, 2013. The Samba School which wins the A Group will parade with the top samba groups at the Special Group performance in 2014.REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes
Rio Carnival 2013
Revellers from the Jacarezinho samba school prepare to take part in the first night of the A Group annual Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome February 8, 2013. The Samba School which wins the A Group will parade with the top samba groups at the Special Group performance in 2014.REUTERS/ Ricardo Moraes
Rio Carnival 2013
A reveller from the Jacarezinho samba school takes part in the first night of the A Group annual Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome February 8, 2013. The Samba School which wins the A Group will parade with the top samba groups at the Special Group performance in 2014.REUTERS/ Ricardo Moraes
Rio Carnival 2013
Revellers from the Jacarezinho samba school take part in the first night of the A Group annual Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome February 8, 2013. The Samba School which wins the A Group will parade with the top samba groups at the Special Group performance in 2014.REUTERS/ Ricardo Moraes
Rio Carnival 2013
A reveller takes pictures during the performance of the Jacarezinho samba school on the first night of the A Group annual Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome February 8, 2013. The Samba School which wins the A Group will parade with the top samba groups at the Special Group performance in 2014.REUTERS/ Ricardo Moraes
Rio Carnival 2013
Drum queen Gracyanne Barbosa from the Jacarezinho samba school prepares to dance during the first night of the A Group annual Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome February 8, 2013. The Samba School which wins the A Group will parade with the top samba groups at the Special Group performance in 2014.REUTERS/ Ricardo Moraes
Rio Carnival 2013
A reveller from the Jacarezinho samba school takes part in the first night of the A Group annual Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome February 8, 2013. The Samba School which wins the A Group will parade with the top samba groups at the Special Group performance in 2014.REUTERS/ Ricardo Moraes
Rio Carnival 2013
Revelers from the Jacarezinho samba school pose as they prepare to take part in the first night of the A Group annual Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome, February 8, 2013. The Samba School which wins the A Group will parade with the top samba groups at the Special Group performance in 2014.REUTERS/ Ricardo Moraes
Rio Carnival 2013
A reveller dances during the annual block party known as 'Carmelitas', one of the many carnival parties to take place in the neighbourhoods of Rio de Janeiro, February 8, 2013.REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
Rio Carnival 2013
A reveller dances in front of puppets during the annual block party known as 'Carmelitas', one of the many carnival parties to take place in the neighbourhoods of Rio de Janeiro, February 8, 2013.REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
Rio Carnival 2013
A reveller dances during the annual block party known as 'Carmelitas', one of the many carnival parties to take place in the neighbourhoods of Rio de Janeiro, February 8, 2013.REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
Rio Carnival 2013
A reveller dances during the annual block party known as 'Carmelitas', one of the many carnival parties to take place in the neighbourhoods of Rio de Janeiro, February 8, 2013.REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

Brazil's Rio Carnival starts on Saturday, 9 February and will conclude on 12 February. Ahead of the official start of the carnival, revellers from samba schools were seen at the Sambadrome Marquês de Sapuc on Friday. The Sambadrome is a purpose-built stadium located in Rio de Janeiro and designed specifically to host the annual parade.

The Rio Carnival 2013 is likely to a slightly watered-down affair, after the nightclub tragedy in the city of Santa Maria. The BBC reports as many as 60 people remain in hospital and carnival plans in several cities, Santa Maria and Rio de Janeiro included, have been re-worked. Brazil president Dilma Rousseff will take no part in Carnival festivities, officially or otherwise.

However, the show must go on. And even if the festivities have been scaled back, Rio's reputation as the Carnival Capital of the World assures locals and visitors of a gigantic party. There are well over 500 processions expected over the course of the four days leading up to Fat Tuesday, with 1.1 million tourists expected. The reputation and profile of the Rio Carnival also ensure A-list celebrities from across the world are a part of the event. This year, glamorous Hollywood star Megan Fox and South Korean rapper Psy, of Gangnam Style fame, will among the big names present.

The local flavour of every Rio Carnival is provided by legions of Samba schools. These organisations train and create dancers and floats, with each representing one neighbourhood of the city. The annual Samba parade is a competition that demands an incredible amount of hard work and preparation, with the final few months leading up to the Rio Carnival almost exclusively given to rehearsals.

Of course, the main attraction of the Rio Carnival is the bikini and sequin-clad dancers, whose energetic dances have long become the stuff of Carnival legend.

Press Start to see a slideshow of spectacular photographs from the first day of the Rio Carnival 2013

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