Rio de Janeiro’s iconic carnival parades will begin on Sunday with a flurry of glitter, sequins, and samba, marking the culmination of the festival’s first full-on run since Covid-19 and Brazil’s highly controversial elections.
The biggest carnival in the world, which began on Friday, will reach its zenith of revelry during the all-night parade competition on Sunday and Monday. The top 12 samba schools in the city will compete for the title with dazzling floats, thundering music, and tens of thousands of singers, drummers, and dancers dressed in skimpy, feathered costumes.
The celebration officially began on Friday when Mayor Eduardo Paes gave “King Momo,” the joyful “monarch” who “rules” Rio for the four-day free-for-all, a symbolic key to the city.
“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.
After two pandemic-affected carnivals and a divisive presidential vote in October that saw veteran socialist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva defeat incumbent Jair Bolsonaro—a fierce opponent of the carnival who was accused of authoritarian tendencies—Rio is ready to party.
Due to the pandemic, which has killed up to 700,000 people in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro postponed the parades by two months and cancelled carnival in 2021. Last year’s carnival was scaled back.
The official festival is back now.