A group of Brazilian revelers dressed as Smurfs pose for the camera during Rio de Janeiro's Carnival celebrations on Feb. 19.

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The king of all Carnival celebrations

A group of Brazilian revelers dressed in Smurf costumes pose for the camera on Feb. 19 during Rio de Janeiro's Carnival celebrations.

 

Carnival is the biggest, most anticipated festival in Brazil, drawing millions of revelers to big cities like Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo in the days leading up to Ash Wednesday. Brazil's Carnival festivities are so large that some cities come to a complete halt for a week.

 
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Revelers wearing gaudy masks, brightly colored feathers and sequins pose at Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil during the Carnival celebrations on Feb. 18.

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Sequins and feathers

Revelers wearing gaudy masks, brightly colored feathers and sequins pose on Feb. 18 at Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro during  Carnival celebrations.

 

About 80 percent of the country's annual consumption of alcohol is imbibed during the raucous six-day party, and 70 percent of Brazil's annual visitors arrive during Carnival season.

 

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A woman dressed as Marilyn Monroe -- complete with a white flowing dress and a platinum blonde wig -- holds a paper fan and poses while standing amongst fellow revellers on a street in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Feb. 20.

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Happy Carnival, Mr. President

A woman dressed as Marilyn Monroe — complete with a white, flowing dress and a platinum blonde wig — holds a paper fan and poses on Feb. 20 while standing amongst fellow revellers on a street in Rio de Janeiro.

 

Although the festival was deemed a success, police strikes in Salvador and Rio de Janeiro in recent weeks threatened Carnival and raised questions about the country’s readiness to host the upcoming 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics.

 

Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.