2015 Carnival in Rio de Janeiro

rio-de-janeiro-carnival-colorful300A look at the costumes alone gives you a sense of the tremendous fun, abandon and community spirit that goes along with Rio’s annual Carnival celebrations. Once a year, usually in February, the Brazilian city is taken over by huge crowds numbering in the millions, and extravagant floats centered around the “Sambadrome.”

The origin of Carnival celebrations date back to pagan rites-of-spring as old as the Roman and Greek Empires, which were then adapted for the Christian religion, coming right before Lent, a period of renunciation in anticipation of the Easter holiday. Brazil’s Carnival, as we know it today, took shape in the 1800s. Since then, the modest celebrations have grown into a mind-blowing bacchanal: the Carnival Samba Parade.

Amateur and professional dancers form over 200 citywide samba schools compete for titles at the parade. Teams hail from a particular region, city or demographic. The teams’ performances usually involve elaborate parade floats which travel down a route originating in the city’s Sambadrome, a stadium erected in the 1980s to house the annual celebrations.

Here are a few shots of 2015 Rio de Janeiro Carnival: