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Carnival kicks off in Rio de Janeiro

March 5, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Hundreds of thousands of people dressed in extravagant costumes are partying in the streets of Rio de Janeiro as carnival gets under way this weekend.

The five-day party is celebrated as summer turns into fall in the Southern Hemisphere.

The festival is based on a French-catholic tradition of having a big feast and ball before the season of lent.

It's considered a time to let go of inhibitions before the most serious season of the Christian calendar begins.