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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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