Saturday, February 18, 2023

Brazil celebrates its return to full-scale Carnival festivities



The samba was playing, revellers were dancing and throughout the city of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, parties and pageantry filled the streets.

Friday marked the official opening of Brazil’s Carnival festivities, which run through February 22, and this year’s events signal a return to the full-fledged celebrations not seen since before the coronavirus pandemic.

Brazil’s government anticipates 46 million people will join in the annual celebration, a burst of exuberance held in the days before Lent, the 40-day period when many Catholics fast and practise acts of austerity.

For this year’s Carnival, crowds are flooding into the streets of Rio de Janeiro and other big cities for music, sightseeing and parades. Rio alone has awarded more than 600 permits for street parties known as “blocos”, with many more unofficial bashes expected to erupt in the days to come.

Millions attend some of the city’s biggest “blocos”, with the local tourism agency estimating an economic boost of about $1bn in revenue for businesses like bars and hotels.

But this year’s festivities come in stark contrast to the more muted Carnivals of previous years, as Brazil suffered under the COVID-19 pandemic. The country has recorded 697,894 deaths from the virus, according to the World Health Organization, with only the United States surpassing that total.

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