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Carnival celebrations around the world

Parades, street dances and fantastic costumes mark festivities leading up to Lent.

A group of people dressed as the New Orleans Saints' emblem walk the streets of the French Quarter in New Orleans on Feb. 16.

Bill Haber / FR170136 AP

Members of the Krewe of Rex, parade down St. Charles Avenue during Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Louisiana on February 16.

Sean Gardner / X01973

The carnival parade on Shrove Tuesday, part of the Mardi Gras celebrations in Nice, France. The theme of the 126th carnival of Nice is "King of Blue Planet."

Cyril Dodergny / Maxppp

Members of Grande Rio samba school parade during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Tuesday, Feb. 16.

Silvia Izquierdo / AP

Elaborate costumes parade during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Feb. 16.

Silvia Izquierdo / AP

A member of the Mondo Kayo Marching Club poses during Mardi Gras, Feb. 16, in New Orleans, Louisiana. The annual Mardi Gras celebration ends at midnight, when the Catholic Lenten season begins on Ash Wednesday.

Patrick Semansky / Getty Images North America

Carnival revelers dressed as "Peliqueiros" run through a street in Spain's northwestern village of Laza Feb. 16. "Peliqueiros," or ancient tax collectors, pursue villagers through the streets ringing their cowbells and hitting villagers with their sticks.

Miguel Vidal / X01219

Revelers in Galaxidi, Greece, participate in a "flour war" on Feb.15. The colorful "war" is a tradition marking the end of the carnival season.

Aris Messinis / AFP

Rival teams pelt each other with oranges during the annual carnival battle in the northern Italian town of Ivrea, Feb. 15. The battle, which every year turns the small town into a mass of fruit-flinging madness, commemorates a local revolt which took place when a medieval count tried to exercise his right to sleep with a newly wedded girl on her wedding night.

Stringer/italy / X90010

Revelers of the Beija Flor samba school perform at the Sambadrome during the first night of Rio de Janeiro's famed carnival parades on Feb. 15. An estimated 500,000 to 700,000 foreign tourists are in town to take part, many of them fleeing snowy winter conditions in Europe and the United States.

Vanderlei Almeida / AFP

A reveler of Beija Flor samba school performs at the Sambadrome, Rio de Janeiro on Feb.15, 2010.

Antonio Scorza / AFP

A member of Beija Flor samba school performs on a float during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Feb.15. The carnival celebration in Rio one of the largest and best known, attracting millions of tourists.

Martin Mejia / AP

Members of Imperatriz samba school parade during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Feb. 15. Carnival festivities begin in the weeks leading up to Lent and culminate on Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent begins.

Felipe Dana / AP

Masked revelers participate in a carnival parade in Luzern, Switzerland, Feb. 15.

Sigi Tischler / KEYSTONE

A dressed up reveler poses during the carnival Rose Monday parade in the western German city of Duesseldorf on Feb.15. Carnival is a tradition stemming from Catholic regions in the west and south of Germany, but it has increasingly been adopted by cities in the north and east.

Volker Hartmann / DDP

A carnival float representing U.S. President Barack Obama and Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad pulling a Trojan horse participates in the traditional Rose Monday carnival parade in the western German city of Cologne Feb.15. The Rose Monday parades in Cologne, Mainz and Duesseldorf are the highlight of the German street carnival season.

Johannes Eisele / X02434

Carnival-goers pass through the centre of Maastricht, Netherlands, on Feb. 14. Due to the snowfall, the floats could not join the traditional parade in Maastricht. The city is know for its street carnival where people dress up in elaborate costumes.

Valerie Kuypers / ANP

A giant clown puppet with a man inside participates in the parade "Mitology of Gods" during the beginning of the carnival season in the city of Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico on Feb. 14.

Alejandro Zepeda / EFE

Men masked as Busho cross the Danube by boat, marking the start of the annual Busho Carnival in Mohacs, south of Budapest, Hungary, on Feb. 14. Local carnival tradition here stems from a 16th century attempt to scare away Turkish invaders by putting on bizarrely painted wooden masks and clothes made from sheep fur.

Ferenc Kalmandy / MTI

A reveler performs during the traditional carnival of Barranquilla, Colombia on Feb. 14. Barranquilla's festivities are second in size to Rio's and paralyzes the city with street dances, parades and musical masquerades.

Christian Escobar Mora / AP

Carnival revelers participate in a parade on the streets of Ovar, Portugal on Feb.14.

Jose Manuel Ribeiro / X00727

Members of the Salgueiro samba school perform at the Sambadrome during the first night of Rio de Janeiro's famed carnival parades on Feb.14.

Juan Barreto / AFP

The Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school performs at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro on Feb. 14.

Vanderlei Almeida / AFP

Drum Queen Julia Lira, 7, of the Viradouro samba school cries as she is carried by her father, Viradouro's president Marco Lira, to her position at the start of their contingent in the carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome Feb. 14. Lira's position as the youngest drum corps queen in memory caused controversy as well as tears.

Bruno Domingos / X01549

Revelers aboard an Unidos da Tijuca samba school float participate in the first night of the Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro, Feb. 14.

Ricardo Moraes / X02675

Revelers of Mocidade Alegre samba school parade as part of Carnival celebrations in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Feb 14.

Mauricio Lima / AFP

A reveler parades during the flower parade of the 126th edition of the Nice Carnival on Feb. 13 in Nice, France. The carnival celebrates the theme "King of the Blue Planet."

Lionel Cironneau / AP

Spanish pianist David Moreno performs during a concert raised 20 feet above the middle of Mayor Square in Madrid, Spain, Feb. 12, during Madrid's Carnival.

Zipi / EFE

A person in a carnival costume and mask poses for a picture in San Marco square in Venice on Feb.7, during the annual Venice Carnival. First recorded in 13th century, the central feature of the festivities is the masks worn by revelers, a subversive act against laws enacted against them.

Damien Meyer / AFP