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Dancing in the streets from Rio to New Orleans: Carnival celebrations begin across the globe

Performers on stilts in Rio, greased poles in New Orleans (to keep the revelers grounded - of course) and creepy masks in Venice. What's not to love about Carnival?  Read our travel stories about the opening celebrations in Rio and the huge crowds New Orleans is anticipating.

Rodrigo Abd / AP

This year's King Momo, the crowned and costumed Milton Rodrigues, center, dances as he holds the key of the city during carnival celebrations in Rio de Janeiro , Brazil, Friday, March 4, 2011. Covered in confetti and to the sound of drums, Rio's mayor Eduardo Paes handed the key to the city to King Momo, the mythical figure who reigns over the chaos of Carnival, officially opening this seaside city's five-day annual exaltation of music, booze and flesh.

Radovan Stoklasa / Reuters

Performers walk through town during the biggest Slovak carnival festival in Zilina on March 4. Some three hundred people from across the country wearing masks participated in the carnival. The carnival season called "fasiangy" takes place from Epiphany through Ash Wednesday in celebration of the end of winter and coming spring.

Gerald Herbert / AP

A member of the Krewe of Chaos throws trinkets to the crowd during their Mardi Gras parade on St. Charles Ave. in New Orleans on March 3. The crescent city expects its largest crowd for the annual celebration since Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.

Gerald Herbert / AP

Participants grease the poles of the Royal Sonesta Hotel in the French Quarter of New Orleans, in preparation for Mardi Gras, on March 4. The annual event is to keep revelers from climbing the poles.

Rodrigo Abd / AP

A reveler on stilts greets a boy during a ceremony marking the official opening Carnival season in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on March 4.

Barbara Zanon / Getty Images

Two women wearing carnival costume pose in San Marco square during the Venice Carnival on March 4 in Venice, Italy.