The carnival of Rio de Janeiro is the most famous of Brazil and the most well known internationally. A great party, that involves carnival revellers from upper, middle and working classes, taking part in the most diverse manifestations, such as samba school parades at sambodromo, street carnival with street bands and blocos, and carnival balls throughout the city.
Carnival is the word for Brazi´s Mardi Gras, which is a holiday and festival season that takes place immediately before Lent. Rio de Janeiro and Brazilian Carnival is considered the biggest party of the world. Officially, Rio´s Carnival last five days, from Friday to Tuesday immediately preceding the Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of Lent. Usually it takes place in February or March.
The city of Rio de Janeiro receives lots of tourists and visitors from Brazil and throughout the world. The city gest crowd and happy, and the hotels in Rio usually are booked long time before the begining of the big party. Not only the cheap rio de janeiro hotels, but also the luxorious hotels usually are all booked. Moreover, lots of cruise liner arrive in Rio with it passangers craving to watch the carnival parade and visit the city during carnival season.
To the ones who would like to visit Rio de Janeiro during Carnival season, there are two important points to consider. The first one is - when is carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Differently from others events that take place on the same days every year, the carnival has its dates changed slightly every year. So it is necessary to pay attention to the calendar. The other point to consider, is that, Rio carnival travel require some planning and you shoul arrange for your accommodation and flight in advance, preferably some months before. If you leave things regarding your travel to the last minute, be sure you will have hard time to arrange for accommodation and probably to get flight tickets.
Nowadays, in Rio de Janeiro, basically speaking, there are three forms and manifestations of Carnival, divided into:
Carnival Parede that concerns Samba Schools Parede
Street Carnival that concerns blocos and streets bands
Carnaval Balls that concerns indoor feast with dancing
Carnival takes place from February 18 to February 21
(Saturday 18, Sunday 19, Monday 20, Tuesday 21)
The winner of Samba School 2012 contest will parede again on Saturday, February 25
The top-level samba schools prepare during the year for the annual carnival parede which is a competition as well. This astonishing moment takes place at Sambódromo (Sambadrome), a tiered street disigned by the wourld famous brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer and completed in 1984.
In bygone days, the parede was in the same street. However, every year stands and stalls for the public along with everything necessary for the paredes would be assembled before the event and then dismantled after the event.
Each samba schools has its theme song (samba enredo) and thousands of voices join the lone voice of the samba school lead singer (puxador) which uses a microfone to sing while the drummers play the rhythm and cadence. It is about 200 to 400 drummers per school with their drums that drive the parede and samba enredo (theme song), and it is probably the loudest music you are ever to hear in your life.
Above, a Master of Cerimonies and a Flag Bearer performing during carnival parede. On the right side, still above, you can see an skilled passista or samba dancer performing acrobatic moviments with his body and his tambourine.
Of the left side, you can see the Rio de Janeiro Sambodromo or Passarela do Samba, where the samba schools carnival parede takes place. In the pic on the right side, you can see Bloco das Carmelites, with lots of carnival revellers dancing and singing in Santa Teresa District, which has one of the most exciting street carnival of Rio de Janeiro City.
In the afternoon and early evening during carnival you may come across people dancing in the streets behind Bandas and Blocos."
"Bloco" is a group of people that gather to goes along with the band.
"Bandas" are amateur marching bands with brass and percussion instruments. The bandas play Carnaval favorites songs as the they move along.
To join in the fun, all you need to do is jump in when you see the band pass. Bandas are one of the most tradicional aspects of Rio´s Carnival.
Band de Ipanema is a traditional banda that paredes on the second Saturday before Carnival and paredes again on Saturday carnival. There are lots of bandas throughout the city that paredes once or twice during and around carnival.
Here a brief list of some famous street bands and blocks:
Copacabana Neighbourhood: Banda do Leme, Banda da Santa Clara, Banda da Sá Ferreira
Dowtown: Cordão do Bola Preta
Ipanema Neighbourhood: Simpatia é quase amor
Jardim Botanico Neighbourhood: Suvaco do Cristo
Thousands of people come together near Ipanema beach to dance, have fun and hear the carnival songs played by Banda de Ipanema or Ipanema Carnival Street Band. The band of Ipanema parades through the street of Ipanema District. The carnival celebration reach its peak when the band and the crowd get to Vieira Soute Av, the main road of Ipanema that goes alongside the beach.
There are Balls for all tastes and all pockets. Most of the balls are quite informal affairs, open to the middle and upper-middle classes of Rio. Some cheaper and popular balls are also readily available but can be somewhat wilder and potentially dangerous to go alone.
There are some Carnival Balls that are surreal and erotic events like Scala´s Ball. Some balls are snooty affairs, like the ones at Copacabana Palace Hotel, one of the most expensive hotels in Rio.
Click here to read more about widely known carnival balls and its calendar such us the ones describe above.
Around Agust, rehearsals start at the Escolas de Samba (Samba´s "schools" or clubs). Rehearsals usually take place in the headquarters of the Samba Clubs and are open to visitor.
One or two months before the official Carnival Parede, the Samba Schools goes to Sambadrome, usually on Saturday to rehearse for the coming parede. All the members of Samba Schools and people that will take part in the parede, should go to sambadrome to rehearse and final arrangements. These rehearsals are open to the general public. Excluding the dazziling floats and fancy dresses that appears only on the day of the official parede, you can see the drummers and dancers moving along the sambadrome.
Carnival Shows are held year-round at Plataforma Samba Show, a barbecue and show’s house, in Leblon district. It present spectacles of the Brazilian folklore and Carnival.
In Samba City (Cidade do Samba), a thematic park and facilities to promote cultural activities related to Carnvial, there are programmed shows and presentations throughout the year. It is in this facilities that many Samba Schools produces dazziling floats and fancy dresses for carnival parede.
Samba City is the most recent tourist attraction in Rio de Janeiro. It is a thematic city, built in the port district by the City Hall. It occupies an area of 114.000 sq. meters, at Rua Rivadávia Corrêa 60, Gamboa.
The aim of the thematic city is to transform Samba School activities into a permanent practice. Not only It is a tourist attraction, but Samba City has become a production center of genuine art.
The design of Samba City consists of geometrical figure formed by the factories surrounding the main square.
The Factories of Samba
Huge 10m wide by 7.5m high gates allow the dazziling floats fully assembled go out.
Located on the highest floor of 2.700m², there are hat fashioning room, sewing ateliers, adornment room, and workshops involving polystyrene and fiber glass modeling.
It has available a cargo elevator that services all four stories. A 12m high ceiling allow carnival dazziling floats to be assembled in real size.
The visitors can go trhough all factories from an outside sidewalk and watch things being made from an 8m high balcony.
Year-round cultural activities at Samba City
All year-round you can learn samba dance and hear the drum rhythms of the Carnaval Bateria. You can also see sample shows of the exciting colours of the fantasy fest along with the costumes, and performances of dance and choreograph.