Updated: Fri, 14 Feb 2014 13:00:00 GMT | By Thomas Oakey
The Samba Schools of Rio de Janeiro

Who'll be lighting up the streets of Rio this year?

Member of Academicos Do Grande Rio (© Buda Mendes/LatinContent/Getty Images)
  • Member of Academicos Do Grande Rio (© Buda Mendes/LatinContent/Getty Images)
  • Acadêmicos do Grande Rio (© AGENCIA EFE/Rex Features)
  • Acadêmicos do Salgueiro (© AGENCIA EFE/Rex Features)
  • Beija-Flor (© KeystoneUSA-ZUMA/Rex Features)
  • Mangueira (© Sipa Press/Rex Features)
  • Imperatriz Leopoldinense (© SERGIO MORAES/Newscom/RTR)
  • Império da Tijuca (© Carmen Flores/LatinContent/Getty Images)
  • Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel (© PAULO WHITAKER/Newscom/RTR)
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Billed as ‘the greatest show on earth’, the Rio Carnival swings into action on February 28 this year, with samba schools from all over Brazil’s famous party city ready to perform to crowds of over 70,000 at the Sambodrome, Rio’s purpose-built parade area.

The groups performing at the "temple of Samba" were originally formed to represent or unite the peoples of certain areas or backgrounds, however they come together now to compete against each other to win the annual parade championship.

During the carnival, schools are divided into tiers based on past performance, with the top colleges performing in the Special Group, the champion of which is decided by 40 judges who give their verdict on choreography, music, dancing and creativity.

But which school will be the best this year? Ahead of the competition, click through our guide to some of Rio’s most famous schools.