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Rio carnival dancers sparkle in greatest show on Earth
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Rio carnival dancers sparkle in greatest show on Earth

It is dubbed the 'greatest show on Earth' with thousands of sparkling Brazilian dancers ignoring sweltering heat to put on a spectacular samba parade.

Rio de Janeiro came alive on Sunday night as the city's carnival hit its peak in a stunning cocktail of glamour, eccentric costumes and pounding samba anthems.   

The two-night extravaganza began in the Sambodromo, where 72,000 spectators sat in roasting conditions, with many thousands more milling around outside selling drinks, putting on colourful outfits or simply soaking up the atmosphere because they were unable to get tickets. 

But amid the feather headdresses, sparkly G-strings and dancers dressed as everything from trees to Chinese merchants, serious politics marked this year's parades.

One reveller dressed up as Dracula to represent Brazilian President Michel Temer while a giant backside mocked Rio de Janeiro's mayor during the unusually politicised event. 

Latin America's biggest country is only just emerging from its worst recession on record. Violent crime in cities like Rio is rocketing, and politics is riddled with corruption and lack of leadership ahead of October presidential elections.

Rio de Janeiro came alive on Sunday night as the city's carnival hit its peak in a stunning cocktail of glamour, fancy dress and pounding samba anthems. Television personality Sabrina Sato (pictured) was among those who performed with the Vila Isabel samba school on the first night of the carnival at the Sambadrome

Rio de Janeiro came alive on Sunday night as the city's carnival hit its peak in a stunning cocktail of glamour, fancy dress and pounding samba anthems. Television personality Sabrina Sato (pictured) was among those who performed with the Vila Isabel samba school on the first night of the carnival at the Sambadrome

Dancers from different samba schools wore a sparkling array of revealing outfits as they competed against one another in the carnival celebration at the Marques de Sapucai Sambodrome

Dancers from different samba schools wore a sparkling array of revealing outfits as they competed against one another in the carnival celebration at the Marques de Sapucai Sambodrome

A performer from the Grupo Especial Imperio Serrano samba school carried a display of purple feathers as she paraded through the stadium

A performer from the Grupo Especial Imperio Serrano samba school carried a display of purple feathers as she paraded through the stadium

Dancers battled through sweltering conditions in the Sambadrome as they performed in front of a crowd of 72,000 in Rio

Dancers battled through sweltering conditions in the Sambadrome as they performed in front of a crowd of 72,000 in Rio

Drum queen Evelyn Bastos from the Mangueira samba school performs during the first night of the Carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro

Drum queen Evelyn Bastos from the Mangueira samba school performs during the first night of the Carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro

Revellers from the Mocidade samba school perform as the sun rises during the Rio's Carnival at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Revellers from the Mocidade samba school perform as the sun rises during the Rio's Carnival at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro's samba parades began late Sunday in a chance for a city struggling with violence and poverty to stage the "greatest show on Earth" - and to rage at unpopular politicians

Rio de Janeiro's samba parades began late Sunday in a chance for a city struggling with violence and poverty to stage the 'greatest show on Earth' - and to rage at unpopular politicians

The carnival still claims to be 'the greatest show on Earth.' But neither the 13 elite samba schools competing, nor the 72,000 spectators crammed into the Sambodromo are immune to the country's anger. This picture shows dancers from the  Academicos do Grande Rio samba school

The carnival still claims to be 'the greatest show on Earth.' But neither the 13 elite samba schools competing, nor the 72,000 spectators crammed into the Sambodromo are immune to the country's anger. This picture shows dancers from the  Academicos do Grande Rio samba school

Revellers decked themselves out in feathery outfits as they danced through the stadium to the deafening sound of samba

Revellers decked themselves out in feathery outfits as they danced through the stadium to the deafening sound of samba

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