Revellers take to the streets as Carnival festivities begin in Rio

Carnival 2015 leaps to life with thousands taking to the streets to partake in the city’s famous blocos, or street parties.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL (FEBRUARY 13, 2015) (REUTERS) – The party is officially underway in Rio de Janeiro as Carnival 2015 started with a roaring drumbeat on Friday (February 13) with scores of block parties across the city.

Thousands poured into the streets to take part in the festivities as locals and close to a million tourists flood the city for the five-day pre-Lenten festival.

One of the first blocos, as the street parties are known, to come to life was the annual “Carmelitas” bloco in the bohemian neighbourhood of Santa Teresa.

Thousands of revellers took to the hillside neighbourhood dancing, singing and, more often than not, partaking in a few drinks.

Carmelitas is one of the biggest and most famous Carnival blocos in the city.

Partygoers dressed in all kinds of creative costumes while others showed a little skin as they danced to the samba beat of the Carmelitas drum line.

“It’s my first time celebrating Carnival. I think it’s going to be a pretty good first time. I’m one of those Brazilians that never celebrates Carnival and so I came to Rio to experience it. I think it’s great,” Ariadne Santiago told Reuters.

“The costumes are funny. The energy. Everyone just enjoying the peace. Everyone so happy,” said Tulio Santos.

“Oh come on, just look at this harmony, peace, the joy of the people from Rio which is contagious and spreads out to everyone,” Cristiane Travassos said.

“I think it is a great Brazilian party. It’s a Brazilian way of letting go, enjoying the costumes, and freeing all your deepest, coolest instincts,” added Ramon Reibeiro.

Carmelitas was established in 1991 in honour of the Carmelite Convent of Santa Teresa.

Legend has it that during one Carnival, one of the nuns ran away from the convent to join the festivities, only returning days later.

There have been rehearsal block parties with the orchestras for weeks leading up to the main event tonight.

Friday was the first day of Carnival which will run through Tuesday, February 17.

Every year, hundreds of street bands and millions seeking a good time descend on Rio during the world-famous party.

The streets fill with Brazilians and tourists from all corners of the world for five days of celebrations and the elaborate parades in Rio’s Sambadrome.