Rio Carnival 2014: Sexiest Brazilian Samba Dancers on Parade [Big Picture]

The world’s most famous annual party, the Rio de Janeiro’s extravagant Carnival, kicked off past weekend, drawing hundreds of thousands of people out onto the streets for nights of festivity.

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The Rio de Janeiro Carnival, one of the biggest and brightest in the world, has kicked off with thousands of visitors filling up the Brazilian city for the “Greatest Show on Earth”. With more than two million people expected to flock to the streets of Rio De Janeiro each day, the five day extravaganza could be the largest one yet.

According to the city’s tourism board, in Rio alone the Carnival will generate around BRL $950 million (£250 million), three-quarters of which comes from tourists alone.

The samba dancers dressed in their bikinis, sequins and feathers at the Rio Carnival 2014 are the sexy showstoppers of the world’s biggest street party.The annual feast of life brings the city’s 12 best samba schools against one another in ornate parades that include over 2,500 participants each and cost more than $3 million to produce.

Forty judges take part, as the efforts are judged in 10 categories, from the quality of the drum sections to the beauty of the costumes, with a winner announced later in the week, laying claim to nothing more than a year’s worth of bragging rights.

When it comes to themes, costumes, music, and dancing there is no limit, and the bar is raised every single year. Past Sunday saw a float shaped like a mammoth wedding cake was presided over by a larger-than-life Pope Francis.  Many of the dancers wow audiences with their smooth movements, and elaborate costumes – often made with bodypaint, feathers, and glitter.

Millions of Brazilians watch the parades live on TV and root for their favorite samba groups with a passion rivaled only by the allegiances held to football teams. Each school has legions of loyal followers, many of whom parade for the same group for decades or root for their favorite from the bleachers.

“I paraded for 15 years for one school,” said Jose Vieira, a retired restaurateur who was soaking in the action from one of the exclusive areas sponsored by top Brazilian companies where the elite gather to drink free beer and watch the parade from above. “It’s a wonderful experience. Even from up here in this nice space, I really miss being down there.”

The Brazilian Carnival isn’t limited only to the Rio’s Sambadrome, as celebration one kind or another will take place in cities across the whole country. Sao Paulo’s Carnival is known for its competition for the Samba award, as the city’s dance schools compete to get the most audience members involved, says Independent.

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