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Carnival 2012

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Carnival Season 2012 is nearing its end. All over the world, celebrations have been held as a final pre-Lent bacchanalian festival -- a way to usher out the winter and welcome spring. Across Europe and the Americas, parades and festivals have been taking place for nearly a month, culminating in the largest, most famous party of all: the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In Rio this weekend, millions took to the streets for days of rowdy, joyous parades and festivities, bringing the nation to a halt for its annual wild party. Nearly 800,000 Brazilian and foreign tourists were expected join Rio's six million residents in the celebrations, whose climax comes on Sunday and Monday with the city's top samba schools putting on their extravagant processions. Gathered here are recent images of carnivals around the globe. [Also, don't miss Part 2, More from Carnival 2012] [37 photos]

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A dancer from the Mocidade samba school parades on a float during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on February 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
A dancer from the Mocidade samba school parades on a float during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on February 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
A member of from the Diablada Urus group, dressed as an angel, during the Carnival parade in Oruro, some 200 km (124 miles) south of La Paz, on February 18, 2012. Partying and religion mingle in Bolivia's Carnival celebration in Oruro, a mining and commercial city of more than 200,000 people. (Reuters/David Mercado) #
Performers from Diablada group wearing bear costumes take part in the carnival parade in Oruro, Bolivia, on February 18, 2012. (Reuters/David Mercado) #
A masked reveller in costume walks near the Piazza San Marco during the Venice carnival, on February 18, 2012. The 2012 edition of the Venice Carnival runs from February 4 to 21 entitled this year "Life is theatre! It's time to get masked". (Andrea Pattaro/AFP/Getty Images) #
People gather to watch a woman dressed in a traditional costume descend from the bell tower into Piazza San Marco, during the "Angel's flight", one of the highlights of the Venice Carnival, in Venice, Italy, on February 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Luigi Costantini) #
People play in the mud during the "Bloco da Lama," or "Mud Block" carnival parade in Parati, Brazil, on February 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana) #
A crowd takes part in the traditional "Cordao do Bola Preta" carnival band parade along Rio Branco avenue, in downtown Rio de Janeiro, on February 18, 2012. (Vanderlei Almeida/AFP/Getty Images) #
A dancer from Mocidade samba school parades during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, on February 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana) #
Carnival dancers perform on a float during a parade by the Perola Negra samba school in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on February 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) #
A dancer performs in a carnival parade by the Perola Negra samba school in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on February 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) #
Revellers of Rosas de Ouro samba school wait their turn on the opening night of parades at the Sambadrome, as part of Carnival celebrations in Sao Paulo, on February 18, 2012. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images) #
Dancers perform on a float during the parade of Mancha Verde samba school in Sao Paulo, on February 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) #
A dancer performs in the parade of Mancha Verde samba school in Sao Paulo, on February 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) #
A Candombe dancer performs during Las Llamadas or parade of The Calls in Montevideo, Uruguay, on February 10, 2012. A feature of the Montevideo Carnival, Candombe is an Afro-Uruguayan rhythmic style music, which is based on the sound of three types of tambores or drums: its roots can be traced back to the 1700's when African slaves were brought to Uruguay. (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico) #
A dancer and drummers perform along the streets of the "Sur" neighborhood during the second night of the "Llamadas" (Calls) parade of the carnival of Montevideo, on February 10, 2012. The "Llamadas" is Uruguay's biggest carnival parade, in which "comparsas" -- groups of dancers and drummers of the traditional "candombe" music -- compete for two consecutive nights. (Pablo Porciuncula/AFP/Getty Images) #
A person in a mask poses in Piazza San Marco during the Venetian Carnival in Venice, on February 11, 2012. (Reuters/Stefano Rellandini) #
LaToya DeLeon presents her creation titled "Heat Wave-The Last Of The Phenomenal Havoc," on the stage at Queen's Park Savannah, during the preliminaries of the King and Queen of Carnival competition in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, on February 9, 2012. (Reuters/Andrea De Silva) #
A masquerader parades on stage at the carnival individual competition at Victoria Square, in Trinidad and Tobago, on February 16, 2012. Picture taken February 16. (Reuters/Andrea De Silva) #
People take part in the 128th Nice carnival on February 18, 2012 in Nice, France. (Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images) #
The parade of the 128th Nice carnival in Nice, France, on February 18, 2012. The parade celebrates the "King of Sport", with some 20 floats and running until March 04, 2012. (Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images) #
A costumed woman takes part in the 128th Nice carnival, on February 18, 2012 in Nice, France. (Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images) #
The King of the Nice Carnival 2012's float parades during the 128th edition of the Nice Carnival, on February 18, 2012, in Nice, France. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau) #
Dancers perform during a carnival parade in Barranquilla, Colombia, on February 18, 2012. Barranquilla's Carnival, a tradition cretaed by locals at the end of the 19th century as a response and to parody the celebration held by European immigrants and aristocracy, was declared a "Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" by the UNESCO in 2003. (Luis Acosta/AFP/Getty Images) #
A woman applies make-up for carnival celebrations in Barranquilla, Colombia, on February 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara) #
Revellers wait before their performance at a carnival parade in Barranquilla, Colombia, on February 19, 2012. (Reuters/Joaquin Sarmiento) #
Renascer Jacarepagua samba school parades at the Sambadrome, in Rio de Janeiro, on February 19, 2012. Rio's two nights of famously extravagant Carnival parades began in a burst of fireworks and to the cheers of festival goers who have been partying on the streets for days. (Vanderlei Almeida/AFP/Getty Images) #
Revellers from the Portela samba school parade on the first night of the annual Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome, on February 19, 2012. (Reuters/Nacho Doce) #
A dancer of Beija Flor samba school parades during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro,on February 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana) #
The Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school, during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, on February 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana) #
A member of the Mocidade samba school parades on the first night of the annual Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome, on February 20, 2012. (Reuters/Ricardo Moraes) #
Dancers from the Imperatriz samba school, during the first night of carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, on February 20, 2012. (Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images) #
A reveller of Camisa Verde e Branco samba school adjusts her costume before the opening night of parades at the Sambadrome, in Sao Paulo, early on February 18, 2012. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images) #
A dancer of the Porto da Pedra samba school parades on a float at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, on February 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana) #
Revellers from the Renascer de Jacarepagua samba school take part in the annual carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome, on February 19, 2012. (Reuters/Ricardo Moraes) #
A member of the Beija-Flor samba school dances on a float at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, on February 20, 2012. (Antonio Scorza/AFP/Getty Images) #
Revellers from the Beija Flor samba school perform at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, on February 20, 2012. (Vanderlei Almeida/AFP/Getty Images) #
A dancer from the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school, on a float during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on February 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana) #

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