RIO DE JANEIRO, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes handed the key of the city to King Momo on Friday, marking the official launch of Carnival 2023 in full force.
The Brazilian city's carnival is the South American country's biggest popular festival and one of the largest carnival celebrations in the world.
This year, the event returns to its traditional date for the first time since the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, after it was held in April in 2022.
"Last year, still under the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, we could not celebrate this very important holiday as we would have liked with a spirit of humor and joy," Paes said.
"It is with great joy, in celebration of life and democracy, that I have the honor of handing the key of the city to King Momo. Long live Rio Carnival!" the mayor exclaimed.
Meanwhile, King Momo, the symbolic monarch during the carnival, played by Djferson Mendes da Silva, did not hide his joy upon receiving the key of the city.
"After two years of pandemic, this Carnival is historic. It is with great honor that I declare Carnival officially opened," Mendes da Silva said with the carnival queen and two carnival princesses at his side.
In total, more than 400 parades of comparsas, or groups of musicians and dancers, will entertain attendees through the streets of Rio de Janeiro.
In addition, the Sambadrome, a special venue built for the carnival, opens its doors on Friday for the parades of samba schools.