Gallery: Parties carry on for annual Brazilian Carnival

This year's festival of excess expected to draw about three quarters of a million visitors to Rio de Janeiro for float parades and party.

A member of the "Bloco da Lama" (Block of Mud)
Members of the "Bloco da Lama" group perform
A worker prepares a carnival float
 Mayor Eduardo Paes hands over the ceremonial key
Rio de Janeiro's Mayor Eduardo Paes dances
Revellers participate in an annual block party
Revellers attend the "Ceu na Terra"
Revelers attend the Carmelitas carnival parade
Three weeks on, just days before the annual party kicks off on Friday, a combination of community spirit, innovation and 20-hour working days have just about got the three groups in shape to parade through Rio's Sambadrome stadium this weekend.
Among the expected highlights of this year's festival of excess that draws about three quarters of a million visitors to Rio are appearances on parade floats by Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen, who will pose as ancient Greek sculpture Venus de Milo, and local singing legend Roberto Carlos.

Celebrities jostling for space in the coveted VIP boxes overlooking the Sambadrome action will include actors Pamela Anderson, Jude Law and -- according to some reports -- Leonardo DiCaprio, plus a host of Brazilian soccer stars.
Carnival street parties, known as "blocos," have shown no shortage of enthusiasm in recent days. City officials complained of organizational problems after "flash mobs" rallied through social networking sites like Twitter swelled pre-Carnival parties to record numbers last weekend in the Ipanema and Copacabana beach areas.