Every year before Ash Wednesday, Rio throws one of the world’s best parties. Drawing on African, Indian, and European traditions, Carnival features five days of street fairs, free concerts, and costumed balls. The festival culminates in a colorful parade through the city’s Sambódromo Stadium. Dancers clad in feathered headdresses, sequined body suits, and rhinestone-studded G-strings compete for top honors in the country’s ultimate dance competition. The festivities start weeks before Carnival officially kicks off. Brace yourself for impromptu dance parties, the occasional midnight swim, and very little sleep.