Rio Carnival Mardi Gras
Rio Carnival is in full swing! On Monday, the parade started with crowd favourite Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel that has chosen as a theme to celebrate the state of Pernambuco along with the carnavalesco Fernando Pinto, the man who helped the school win the title in 1985. Other themes this year include children's toys (União da Ilha), while last year's winner, Vila Isabel, goes for a complicated theme touching on Brazil's natural and historical heritage. Zico, one of Brazil's greatest footballers and part of the best Brazilian team not to win the World Cup, is honoured by Imperatriz Leopoldinense, while Portela reflects on the history of one of Rio' most important streets, Avenida Rio Branco, a bit like choosing Oxford Street for a theme.
The main carnival parades for 2014 will close in Rio in the early hours of Tuesday, 4 March, with Unidos da Tijuca's tribute to the great Brazilian Formula One driver, Ayrton Senna, who died 20 years ago this year. A theme that will certainly catch the eye of the thousands of foreign media covering Rio's carnival and looking for a sporting theme to tie into the World Cup. Senna was a fan of the parade, and often appeared if his diary and pre-season testing commitments would allow.
Chris Pickard @criticaldivide