HUFFINGTON POST

The Party Goes On In Brazil's Carnival Despite Zika Fears And Economic Woes

About 5 million revelers are expected to show up to the five-day-long street party this year.
From Friday to Tuesday, revelers across Brazil are taking part in Carnival, a five-day-long festival in which samba scho
From Friday to Tuesday, revelers across Brazil are taking part in Carnival, a five-day-long festival in which samba schools and street bands perform in colorful outfits.

This week is full of festivities. While Americans cheered for their teams at the Super Bowl on Sunday and East Asians feast and visit temples to mark the Lunar New YearBrazilians also got into the celebratory mood for the annual Carnival.

Carnival is a five-day-long party where tourists and locals across the country flock outside to watch bands and samba schools perform. Rio de Janeiro is preparing for the Gay Gala on Tuesday, a bustling show where drag queens from around the world dance and show off their costume during an all-night party.

About 5 million revelers are expected to show up to the week-long festivities this year, which started Feb. 5 and goes until Feb. 9, Agence France-Presse reported.

About 5 million people are expected to show up to Carnival this year.
About 5 million people are expected to show up to Carnival this year.

Carnival's origins date back to at least the 18th century, when Catholic Portuguese colonists introduced to Brazil the European tradition of celebrating and indulging during the days before Lent.

Lent is a 46-day period -- 40, if excluding Sundays -- before Easter in which members of the Roman Catholic Church and some other Christian denominations fast to commemorate the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert fasting. The 2016 Lenten season begins Feb. 10 on Ash Wednesday.

The party goes on despite rising unemployment and inflation rates, and new fears of the Zika virus in the country.
The party goes on despite rising unemployment and inflation rates, and new fears of the Zika virus in the country.

This year's Carnival celebrations helped allay some of Brazil's tensions as economic woes and fresh fears of the Zika virus loom large in communities across the country.

Unemployment is rising and inflation rates soared to about 10.6 percent in the country, its highest level in 13 years. Forty-eight Brazilian cities cancelled their 2016 Carnival celebrations due to financial restrictions, Agence France-Presse reported. 

Since last May, an estimated 1.5 million people in Brazil have been found infected with the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne disease that experts fear can also be spread through sex and blood transfusion.

Prior to this weekend's celebrations, workers in Rio de Janeiro fumigated and sprayed pesticide over some Carnival locations, including the city's Sambadrome, a 72,000-seat stadium, which was built for samba parades in 1984.

But, for many, the party goes on.

Take a look at the most colorful photos and videos as the festivities got underway:

  • <a href="http://riotimesonline.com/brazil-news/rio-entertainment/king-momo-selected-for-2016-rio-de-janeiro-carnival/" target
    Leo Correa/Associated Press
    Wilson Dias da Costa Neto, or King Momo -- a figure who traditionally kicks off the Carnival festivities -- holds a symbolic key to the city of Rio de Janeiro in a ceremony to mark the start of Carnival on Friday.
  • A dancer, clad in blue and white frills, performs in Sao Paulo on Saturday.
    Andre Penner/Associated Press
    A dancer, clad in blue and white frills, performs in Sao Paulo on Saturday.
  • Dancers bang on drums&nbsp;in front of a float in Sao Paulo.
    Andre Penner/Associated Press
    Dancers bang on drums in front of a float in Sao Paulo.
  • Revelers gather for Carnival celebrations in Recife, a coastal city in east Brazil that was hit particularly hard by the Zika
    Mario Tama/Getty Images
    Revelers gather for Carnival celebrations in Recife, a coastal city in east Brazil that was hit particularly hard by the Zika virus.
  • People dance on the streets of Olinda, a coastal city located about 5 miles away from Recife.
    Mario Tama/Getty Images
    People dance on the streets of Olinda, a coastal city located about 5 miles away from Recife.
  • A very golden&nbsp;performer parades in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday.
    Silvia Izquierdo/Associated Press
    A very golden performer parades in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday.
  • Members of a&nbsp;samba school,&nbsp;dressed head to toe in gold and orange, dance&nbsp;in front of giant tigers in Sao Paulo
    Andre Penner/Associated Press
    Members of a samba school, dressed head to toe in gold and orange, dance in front of giant tigers in Sao Paulo.
  • A&nbsp;performer on a wheelchair walks&nbsp;with&nbsp;his hands in Rio de Janeiro on Monday.
    Leo Correa/Associated Press
    A performer on a wheelchair walks with his hands in Rio de Janeiro on Monday.
  • Carnival Drum Queen&nbsp;<a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-brazil-carnival-queen-idUSTRE51H4GS20090218" target="_bla
    Leo Correa/ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Carnival Drum Queen Raissa de Oliveira, who effectively serves as the festival's pin-up girl, dances in Rio de Janeiro.
  • A dancer parades&nbsp;her wings, crown and jewels in&nbsp;Rio de Janeiro.
    Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images
    A dancer parades her wings, crown and jewels in Rio de Janeiro.
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