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Carnival celebrations

From Rio de Janeiro to Venice, revelers took to the streets in colorful costumes.

A dancer of Mangueira samba school parades during Carnival celebrations Feb. 21, 2012, at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Sunday and Monday night parades, which feature 12 of the best samba schools and run well past midnight, are the highlight of Rio de Janeiro's Carnival. Felipe Dana / AP
Dancers of Grande Rio samba school parade during Carnival celebrations Feb. 21 at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro. Nearly 100,000 paying spectators turn out for the all-night spectacle at the Sambadrome. Victor R. Caivano / AP
Dancers of Grande Rio samba school parade on an elaborate float Feb. 21 during Carnival celebrations. As many as 850,000 tourists were expected to descend upon Rio during Carnival. Victor R. Caivano / AP
Dancers of Salgueiro samba school parade on a float during Carnival celebrations Feb. 21 at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro. The six best samba schools will participate in a Champions' parade on Feb. 25. Felipe Dana / AP
Performers from the Salgueiro samba school parade during Carnival celebrations Feb. 21 at the Sambadrome. The parade is a fierce competition between Rio's samba schools, who are judged in 10 categories including percussion band, samba song, theme, costumes and floats and props. Victor R. Caivano / AP
Revelers from the Academicos do Grande Rio samba school perform during the second night of Carnival on Feb. 21 at the Sambadrome. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens, spectacularly imaginative floats and thousands of extras, are broadcast across the globe. Vanderlei Almeida / AFP - Getty Images
Performers from the Unidos da Tijuca samba school parade during Carnival celebrations Feb. 21 at the Sambadrome. The Carnival parades in Rio started as street performances that evolved into a competition between samba schools. Felipe Dana / AP
A dancer from Salgueiro samba school performs during the second night of Carnival early Feb. 21 at the Sambadrome. Christophe Simon / AFP - Getty Images
Performers from the Unidos da Tijuca samba school parade during Carnival celebrations Feb. 21 at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro. Felipe Dana / AP
A dancer from Mangueira samba school performs Feb. 21 during the second night of Carnival at the Sambadrome. Christophe Simon / AFP - Getty Images
Dancers of Sao Clemente samba school parade on a float during Carnival celebrations Feb. 20 at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro. Felipe Dana / AP
Dancers of Uniao da Ilha samba school parade on a float during Carnival celebrations Feb. 20 at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro. Felipe Dana / AP
A reveler dressed as a "Peliqueiro" adjusts his headgear during a carnival in Spain's northwestern village of Laza, on Feb. 21. "Peliqueiros," or ancient tax collectors, pursued villagers through the streets ringing their cowbells and hitting villagers with their sticks. Miguel Vidal / Reuters
A man in a costume passes a ticket control gate at Cadiz train station during the Carnival of Cadiz in Spain on Feb. 20. The carnival will run until February 26. Marcelo del Pozo / Reuters
Performers from the Sao Clemente samba school parade are pictured during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome on Feb. 20. Silvia Izquierdo / AP
Dancers of Sao Clemente samba school parade perform on a float during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome on Feb. 20. Felipe Dana / AP
Revelers from the Sao Clemente samba school take part in a parade on Feb. 20, the second night of the annual Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome. Sergio Moraes / Reuters
A dancer of Porto da Pedra samba school parades on a float during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro on Feb. 20. Carnival celebrations take place in many areas of the world in the days leading up to Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. Rio de Janeiro's carnival is the best known and the biggest. Felipe Dana / AP
Revelers from the Vila Isabel samba school parade on Feb. 19, the first night of the annual carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome. Ricardo Moraes / Reuters
A dancer performs during Vila Isabel samba school parade at the Sambadrome during carnival celebrations in Rio de Janeiro, Feb. 20. Victor R. Caivano / AP
Revelers from the Vila Isabel samba school parade in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome, Feb. 20. Sergio Moraes / Reuters
A reveler from the Beija-Flor samba school parades in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome, Feb. 20. Ricardo Moraes / Reuters
Revelers from the Vila Isabel samba school perform at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro on Feb. 20. The night parades in Rio's hallowed Sambadrome marked the high point of the pre-Lent bacchanalian carnival festival. Vanderlei Almeida / AFP - Getty Images
A reveler of Vai Vai samba school shouts during the opening night of parades during carnival celebrations in Sao Paulo, Feb. 18. Vanessa Carvalho / AFP - Getty Images
A reveler of Aguia de Ouro samba school performs on a float during the second night of carnival celebrations in Sao Paulo on Feb. 19. Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP - Getty Images
Two women dressed in carnival costumes pose for pictures Feb. 19, in Venice, Italy. The annual festival, which lasts nearly three weeks, will see the streets and canals of Venice filled with people wearing highly-decorative and imaginative carnival costumes and masks. Marco Secchi / Getty Images
Performers from Diablada group wearing bear costumes take part in the carnival parade in Oruro, 124 miles south of La Paz, Feb. 18. Partying and religion mingled in Bolivia's carnival celebration in Oruro, a mining and commercial city of more than 200,000 people. David Mercado / Reuters
A dancer of the "Fraternidad La Diablada" group performs during the carnival parade in Oruro, Feb. 18. David Mercado / Reuters
A float with a giant figure of Britain's Queen Elizabeth is paraded through the crowd during the Nice Carnival in southeastern France, Feb. 19. Eric Gaillard / Reuters
A woman gets costume makeup applied for carnival celebrations in Barranquilla, Colombia, Feb. 19. Fernando Vergara / AP
"Straw-men", wearing clothing made of a jute bag stuffed with straw, take part in the traditional carnival procession in Evolene, Switzerland, Feb. 19. Jean-christophe Bott / AP
People throw talcum powder at one another as they take part in the carnival "Los Indianos" in Santa Cruz de la Palma, on the Spanish Canary island of Las Palma on Feb. 20. Desiree Martin / AFP - Getty Images
The "Peliqueiros" or hairdresser march during the "Entroido" carnival in Laza, northwestern Spain, on Feb. 19. Pedro Armestre / AFP - Getty Images
A reveler celebrates the traditional Rose Monday carnival parade in the western German city of Duesseldorf Feb. 20. The Rose Monday parades in Cologne, Mainz and Duesseldorf are the highlight of the German street carnival season. Ina Fassbender / Reuters
A carnival truck representing German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy passes through the crowd during the carnival parade in Duesseldorf, Germany, Feb. 20. Federico Gambarini / EPA
Carnival fools celebrate in the streets of Duesseldorf during the traditional Rose Monday parade on Feb. 20. Patrik Stollarz / AFP - Getty Images
The so-called "swollen heads" take part in the traditional Rose Monday parade in Mainz, Germany, Feb. 20. Michael Probst / AP