Carnival is celebrated all around the world in Venice, the US, Panama and Brazil, just a few of the places we highlighted.
Masked participants stand in St. Mark's Square during the Carnival festivities in Venice, Italy. Carnival traditionally commemorates the passing of winter, with parties, costumes and balls, in the run-up to the Christian observation of Lent.
Boats carrying Carnival participants sail on the Rio Canareggio during a boat parade in Venice, Italy.
Revelers beg for beads to be tossed from a balcony in the French Quarter during Mardi Gras in New Orleans, LA. The annual Mardi Gras celebration ends at midnight, when the Catholic Lenten season begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday.
Bellmen ring their bells to chase evil spirits of winter away at the International Carnival Parade in Croatia's Adriatic port city of Rijeka.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is depicted as a sultan on a float during a Carnival parade in Viareggio, Italy. This version of Carnival is characterized by political and religious satire.
A red dragon and Chinese masks are seen on a float during a Carnival parade in Viareggio, Italy.
A reveler on one of the Salgueiro samba school's floats participates in the first night of the Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
A member of the Mocidade samba school participates in the second night of the Carnival parade in the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Carnival participants perform at Athens' suburb of Moschato during a parade marking carnival celebrations. Many towns throughout Greece stage festivities attended by thousands of people with celebrations peaking on March 17.
A fire-eater performs in Panama City, Panama. Panama is one of several Latin American countries, like Brazil, that celebrate Carnival -- the pre-Lenten festival that mixes Catholic and -pagan rituals.
Manuel Aguilar tries to borrow Maria Pascual's headwear during Panama's Carnival celebration. Panamanians closed their offices to enjoy a 4-day Carnival spree.