Revelers in the southern U.S. city of New Orleans, Louisiana, are in the streets Tuesday enjoying parades and live music in celebration of Mardi Gras, the culmination of the Carnival season.

Costumed people on parade floats are tossing beads and tokens to the rowdy, and often bawdy, crowds.

Mardi Gras, which is French for "Fat Tuesday," lasts until midnight. It marks the end of the festive and indulgent Carnival season.

Wednesday, known as "Ash Wednesday," is the start of Lent, when many Christians observe a six-week period of prayer and fasting.

Elsewhere, in Brazil, an estimated 700,000 people took part in the world-famous Carnival in Rio de Janeiro.

Rio's celebration, complete with samba parades and extravagant floats, is considered one of the world's largest parties.

There are similar festivities in other parts of Latin America and Europe.


Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.