Carnival Season 2012 is nearing its end. All over the world, celebrations have been held as a final pre-Lent bacchanalian festival -- a way to usher out the winter and welcome spring. Across Europe and the Americas, parades and festivals have been taking place for nearly a month, culminating in the largest, most famous party of all: the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In Rio this weekend, millions took to the streets for days of rowdy, joyous parades and festivities, bringing the nation to a halt for its annual wild party. Nearly 800,000 Brazilian and foreign tourists were expected join Rio's six million residents in the celebrations, whose climax comes on Sunday and Monday with the city's top samba schools putting on their extravagant processions. Gathered here are recent images of carnivals around the globe.
Dancers of Grande Rio samba school parade during Carnival celebrations Feb. 21 at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro. Nearly 100,000 paying spectators turn out for the all-night spectacle at the Sambadrome.
Dancers of Grande Rio samba school parade on an elaborate float Feb. 21 during Carnival celebrations. As many as 850,000 tourists were expected to descend upon Rio during Carnival.
Dancers of Salgueiro samba school parade on a float during Carnival celebrations Feb. 21 at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro. The six best samba schools will participate in a Champions' parade on Feb. 25.
Revelers from the Academicos do Grande Rio samba school perform during the second night of Carnival on Feb. 21 at the Sambadrome. The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens, spectacularly imaginative floats and thousands of extras, are broadcast across the globe.
Performers from the Unidos da Tijuca samba school parade during Carnival celebrations Feb. 21 at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro.
Dancers of Sao Clemente samba school parade on a float during Carnival celebrations Feb. 20 at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro.
Dancers of Uniao da Ilha samba school parade on a float during Carnival celebrations Feb. 20 at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro.
A reveler dressed as a "Peliqueiro" adjusts his headgear during a carnival in Spain's northwestern village of Laza, on Feb. 21. "Peliqueiros," or ancient tax collectors, pursued villagers through the streets ringing their cowbells and hitting villagers with their sticks.
A man in a costume passes a ticket control gate at Cadiz train station during the Carnival of Cadiz in Spain on Feb. 20. The carnival will run until February 26.
Performers from the Sao Clemente samba school parade are pictured during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome on Feb. 20.
Dancers of Sao Clemente samba school parade perform on a float during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome on Feb. 20.
Revelers from the Vila Isabel samba school parade on Feb. 19, the first night of the annual carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome.
A reveler from the Beija-Flor samba school parades in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome, Feb. 20.
Revelers from the Vila Isabel samba school perform at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro on Feb. 20. The night parades in Rio's hallowed Sambadrome marked the high point of the pre-Lent bacchanalian carnival festival.
A reveler of Aguia de Ouro samba school performs on a float during the second night of carnival celebrations in Sao Paulo on Feb. 19.
Two women dressed in carnival costumes pose for pictures Feb. 19, in Venice, Italy. The annual festival, which lasts nearly three weeks, will see the streets and canals of Venice filled with people wearing highly-decorative and imaginative carnival costumes and masks.
Performers from Diablada group wearing bear costumes take part in the carnival parade in Oruro, 124 miles south of La Paz, Feb. 18. Partying and religion mingled in Bolivia's carnival celebration in Oruro, a mining and commercial city of more than 200,000 people.
A dancer of the "Fraternidad La Diablada" group performs during the carnival parade in Oruro, Feb. 18.
A float with a giant figure of Britain's Queen Elizabeth is paraded through the crowd during the Nice Carnival in southeastern France, Feb. 19.
"Straw-men", wearing clothing made of a jute bag stuffed with straw, take part in the traditional carnival procession in Evolene, Switzerland, Feb. 19.
People throw talcum powder at one another as they take part in the carnival "Los Indianos" in Santa Cruz de la Palma, on the Spanish Canary island of Las Palma on Feb. 20
The "Peliqueiros" or hairdresser march during the "Entroido" carnival in Laza, northwestern Spain, on Feb. 19.
A reveler celebrates the traditional Rose Monday carnival parade in the western German city of Duesseldorf Feb. 20. The Rose Monday parades in Cologne, Mainz and Duesseldorf are the highlight of the German street carnival season.
A carnival truck representing German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy passes through the crowd during the carnival parade in Duesseldorf, Germany, Feb. 20.
The so-called "swollen heads" take part in the traditional Rose Monday parade in Mainz, Germany, Feb. 20.