King Momo received Friday the keys to Rio de Janeiro from Mayor Eduardo Paes and fired the starting gun for five days of Carnival festivities in Brazil's second city.

The ceremony, held at city hall, turned into a party when the monarch arrived in a luxury vehicle accompanied by the queen of this year's Carnival and her two princesses.

After receiving the keys, King Momo, wearing a regal crown and an immaculate white suit, declared open "the greatest cultural and popular festival on the planet."

The sovereign was cheered on with shouts of "Evoe," just as revelers in ancient Rome cried out to Bacchus, the god of wine and ecstasy.

Paes joked that King Momo really ought to know how to manage the traffic problems that have afflicted Rio for weeks because of so many streets being closed by major construction projects.

The mayor, wearing a Panama hat, was the first to join in the typical party-time atmosphere of these days, dancing and kneeling on several occasions before the stunning Carnival princesses who danced around him.

Nor did the ceremony lack the sound of the song "Cidade Maravilhosa" (Marvelous City), considered the unofficial anthem of Rio de Janeiro, whose first notes had those present placing hands on their hearts and smiling.

Soon after King Momo began his reign, the first costumed groups started parading through the different streets of the city for the 2014 Carnival. EFE