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A last blast before the observance of Lent, Carnival has evolved in many parts of the world with Christian traditions to be the biggest party of the year. Traditions vary from country to country, and even from region to region, but most places celebrate with a parade filled with masks, music, and ecstatic revelers. The world's biggest party happens in Rio de Janeiro, where millions fill the streets as the parade enters the Sambadrome. Collected here are pictures of Carnival in many forms as celebrated in various parts of Europe, Latin America, and North America. -- Lane Turner (41 photos total)
A performer from the Beija Flor samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro on Feb. 20, 2012. Millions watched the sequin-clad samba dancers at Rio de Janeiro's iconic Carnival parade. (Silvia Izquierdo/Associated Press)

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