A Vila Maria samba school dancer performs in their parade during carnival celebrations in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: AP
A Vila Maria samba school dancer performs in their parade during carnival celebrations in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: AP
A reveller parades for Vai Vai samba school during Carnival in Sao Paulo. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: Reuters
A reveller parades for Vai Vai samba school during Carnival in Sao Paulo. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: Reuters
A dancer performs during the parade of Rosas de Ouro samba school in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: AP
A dancer performs during the parade of Rosas de Ouro samba school in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: AP
A reveller parades for Unidos do Peruche samba school during Carnival in Sao Paulo. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: Reuters
A reveller parades for Unidos do Peruche samba school during Carnival in Sao Paulo. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: Reuters
Brazilian model Ellen Roche parades for Rosas de Ouro samba school during Carnival in Sao Paulo.  Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: Reuters
Brazilian model Ellen Roche parades for Rosas de Ouro samba school during Carnival in Sao Paulo. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: Reuters
Brazilian comedian Sabrina Sato performs during the parade of Gavioes da Fiel samba school in Sao Paulo, Brazil.Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: AP
Brazilian comedian Sabrina Sato performs during the parade of Gavioes da Fiel samba school in Sao Paulo, Brazil.Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: AP
A reveller parades for Unidos do Peruche samba school during Carnival in Sao Paulo. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: Reuters
A reveller parades for Unidos do Peruche samba school during Carnival in Sao Paulo. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: Reuters
A reveller parades for Tom Maior samba school during carnival in Sao Paulo. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: Reuters
A reveller parades for Tom Maior samba school during carnival in Sao Paulo. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: Reuters
A dancer performs during the parade of Tom Maior samba school in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: AP
A dancer performs during the parade of Tom Maior samba school in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: AP
A dancer performs on a float during the parade of Aguia de Ouro samba school in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: AP
A dancer performs on a float during the parade of Aguia de Ouro samba school in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: AP
A dancer performs during the parade of Unidos do Peruche samba school in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: AP
A dancer performs during the parade of Unidos do Peruche samba school in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: AP
Dancers performs on a float during the parade of Nene de Vila Matilde samba school in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: AP
Dancers performs on a float during the parade of Nene de Vila Matilde samba school in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: AP
A reveller parades for Rosas de Ouro samba school during Carnival in Sao Paulo. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: Reuters
A reveller parades for Rosas de Ouro samba school during Carnival in Sao Paulo. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: Reuters
A woman dances amid orange smoke during the 'Bloco da Lama', or Mud Block carnival group parade in Paraty, Brazil. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: AP
A woman dances amid orange smoke during the 'Bloco da Lama', or Mud Block carnival group parade in Paraty, Brazil. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: AP
Aguia de Ouro samba school dancers perform on their float during carnival celebrations in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: AP
Aguia de Ouro samba school dancers perform on their float during carnival celebrations in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: AP
A woman dances during a "Bola Preta" block parade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, March 5, 2011. The five-day annual carnival celebration officially started Friday and is expected to draw about 756,000 visitors, both foreign and Brazilian, who will pack hotels to nearly 100 percent capacity and spend about $559 million, according to Rio state's tourism department. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
A woman dances during a "Bola Preta" block parade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, March 5, 2011. The five-day annual carnival celebration officially started Friday and is expected to draw about 756,000 visitors, both foreign and Brazilian, who will pack hotels to nearly 100 percent capacity and spend about $559 million, according to Rio state's tourism department. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
A reveller parades for Vai Vai samba school during Carnival in Sao Paulo. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: Reuters
A reveller parades for Vai Vai samba school during Carnival in Sao Paulo. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: Reuters
A dancer performs during the parade of Nene de Vila Matilde samba school in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: AP
A dancer performs during the parade of Nene de Vila Matilde samba school in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: AP
Revellers parade for Unidos do Peruche samba school during Carnival in Sao Paulo. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: Reuters
Revellers parade for Unidos do Peruche samba school during Carnival in Sao Paulo. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: Reuters
A dancer performs on the top of a float during the parade of Gavioes da Fiel samba school in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: AP
A dancer performs on the top of a float during the parade of Gavioes da Fiel samba school in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: AP
Journalists photograph a dancer as she performs during the parade of Aguia de Ouro samba school in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: AP
Journalists photograph a dancer as she performs during the parade of Aguia de Ouro samba school in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: AP
A dancer performs during the parade of the Vai Vai samba school in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: AP
A dancer performs during the parade of the Vai Vai samba school in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: AP
A dancer performs during the parade of Aguia de Ouro samba school in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: AP
A dancer performs during the parade of Aguia de Ouro samba school in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: AP
A dancer performs during the parade of the Vai Vai samba school in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: AP
A dancer performs during the parade of the Vai Vai samba school in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: AP
Lingerie model Larissa Riquelme of Paraguay performs on a Vila Maria samba school float during carnival celebrations in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: AP
Lingerie model Larissa Riquelme of Paraguay performs on a Vila Maria samba school float during carnival celebrations in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Rio prepared to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. Photo: AP

Rio was preparing to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70 000 and a worldwide broadcast audience. In fact a competition, the two nights of parades are put on by Rio's top dozen samba schools, which have worked for months to ready shows costing up to five million dollars.

The winning group, judged on choreography, music, dancing and creativity, is regarded as triumphantly as any champion football team. The whole contest itself reinforces the iconic image of Brazil as a sexy, multi-cultural society with a fervent party spirit.