For Brazil, this year’s carnival is kind of a test of the city’s infrastructure ahead of the big sporting events scheduled for the future, including the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016.
Streets in the fabulous city, where festivities started on Saturday, were already crowded the day before with thousands of people, coming from all over the world to follow spontaneous street parades.
According to BBC, Carnival 2013 includes more than 700 processions which will make their way through various parts of the city, with US actress Megan Fox among the international celebrities expected to attend the hilarious event.
The carnival is predicted to draw attention of more 1.1m tourists who will come to Rio, generating some $650m (£410m) for the local economy. Hotels and restaurants are booked almost to capacity.
South Korean raapper Psy – who became famous after his music video of Gangnam Style dance mimicking trotting on a horse, holding the reins and spinning a lasso has made him a household name – will perform during the street parties in Brazil’s third largest city, Salvador.
Last year, the Cordao da Bola Preta, one of Rio’s oldest and most popular carnival street parties, were visited by about 2.2m revellers – the largest crowd in its 93-year history of the carnival.
From Sunday competitions between Samba schools will take place. They will perform during spectacular parades in special stadiums known as sambadromes – with elaborately decorated floats and dancers wearing multicoloured costumes often adorned with large feathers.
However, as Brazil’s annual carnival has begun, but the parades and street parties have a sombre tinge coming after a nightclub fire that killed 238 people.
Mourning rituals were still not over as the mayor of Rio de Janeiro handed over the keys of the city to carnival ceremonial figurehead King Momo.
President Dilma Rousseff attended a memorial Mass at Brasilia’s cathedral on Thursday night. She will not attend the five-day-long partying, as she has some work to be done in Bahia state.
More than 60 casualties of the tragedy are still in hospital, and many cities have scaled down their festivities as a result.
A nightclub fire killed hundreds of people in southern Brazil on Sunday when a pyrotechnic show set the building ablaze and made partygoers flee in panic.
Most of the victims were suffocated by toxic fumes that filled the night club after sparks from pyrotechnics used for visual effects set fire to soundproofing on the ceiling, Reuters reports.
“Smoke filled the place instantly, the heat became unbearable,” survivor Murilo Tiescher, a medical student, told reporters. “People could not find the only exit. They went to the toilet thinking it was the exit and many died there.”
Reports from firemen claim that one exit was locked and that club security guards initially tried to block people from exiting the club. However, the security staff relented immediately after they noticed flames engulfing the ceiling.
Survivors and the police inspector Marcelo Arigony explained that Brazilian bars routinely make partygoers pay their entire tab at the end of the night before they are allowed to leave.
According to local authorities, band members who were on the stage when the fire set later confirmed they did use pyrotechnics during their show.
All photos from RioTur/Flickr.