RIO DE JANEIRO: With a swirl of glitter, sequins and samba, Rio de Janeiro will kick off its famed carnival parades today, the climax of the festival’s first full-on edition since Covid-19 and Brazil’s bitterly divisive elections.
The world’s biggest carnival, which officially opened Friday, will hit peak party level at the all-night parade competition Sunday and Monday, where the city’s top 12 samba schools will vie to become the champions with dazzling floats, thundering music and thousands of singers, drummers and dancers in feather-covered costumes.
Mayor Eduardo Paes declared the party open Friday, symbolically handing the key to the city to “King Momo,” the jovial “monarch” who “rules” Rio for the four-day free-for-all.
“It is with great happiness, celebrating life, celebrating democracy, that I have the honor of handing the keys to the city to King Momo,” said Paes, an avowed carnival lover.
Rio is ready to party after two pandemic-disrupted carnivals and a polarizing presidential election in October, in which veteran leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva ousted incumbent Jair Bolsonaro – an ultra-conservative carnival critic accused of authoritarian tendencies.
Rio canceled carnival in 2021, and held a reduced version last year, banning the epic street parties known as “blocos” and postponing the parades by two months because of the pandemic, which has claimed nearly 700,000 lives in Brazil.
Now, the full-on festival is back.