Carnaval is the highest season in Rio. . It happens at the peak of summer, when Cariocas are at their best. Festivities attract thousands of people from all corners of the world. Carnaval, as spelled in Portuguese, is a 4-day celebration. It starts on Saturday, and ends on Fat Tuesday, or Mardi-Gras. In practice it is more like four weeks, really. .
Carnival Sunday happens seven weeks before Easter Sunday. Dates change every year. We developed from scratch a feature page where you can find out all Carnaval dates (past or future).
Two weeks before Carnaval, Banda de Ipanema opens festivities on Saturday, followed by Bloco Volta, Alice, on Sunday. This is a great excuse to arrive earlier and save. A week before, Simpatia é Quase Amor parades at Ipanema Beach on Saturday. These are free events in the open air, where you can mingle with residents. And watch the free rehearsals in Sambódromo.
One week after Carnaval there is the Champions' Parade on Saturday. Monobloco takes over the street on Sunday. The party scene is still happening in a big way. Many Cariocas say that the year only starts when Carnaval is over. There is some truth to it.
During the official Carnaval period, the fun is non-stop. More street events, balls and parties than anyone could handle. The competition of Samba Schools is serious business. It's way more than a show for tourists. there's passion. Street Carnaval is blooming, and the spontaneity is contagious. There are Blocos in all sizes.
Carnaval Samba Parade
Rio Samba Parade- Broadcast to the whole world, and often referred to as The Greatest Show on Earth. Think of it as an opera in the open air, where each act is performed by a Samba School. The actors, as many as 50 thousand, include people in all walks of life.
The School chooses a theme, and tries to portray it with music, dancing, floats, groups (wings) of people wearing the same costumes. They bring life to the theme by performing their role on the parade, singing, dancing and acting. Only one school will the win, and people are as passionate about samba schools as by their soccer team.
Special group samba schools, the most prestigious group, parade on Carnaval Sunday and Monday. On Friday and Saturday Group A samba schools try to work their way up - or back to the Special Group. On the following Saturday there's the Champion's Parade.
You can participate in many ways. All samba schools offer costumes via their websites, and you may join in! As a spectator, there are tickets in all price ranges. And despite the highly marked up prices offered online, the face value is what you pay when you buy from official sources! Even a few days ahead
Street Carnaval in Rio
Carnaval festivities date back to the colonial period. They have been changing since then. These days there are so many street parades that it would be impossible even to mention them all. The Samba Parade itself was born in the streets, it is a long and fascinating history.
Banda de Ipanema, now considered a part of the city cultural heritage, had a very important role in reviving this tradition. It was born after a trip to the city of Ubá, in Minas Gerais.Until today they keep the original format with a band playing behind revelers at street level. There is no vocalist - we sing the songs! Patrons include residents and visitors.
Simpatia é Quase Amor, now with over 30 years, was also born and raised in Ipanema. Events may attract over 100 thousand people, and there is a sound car, and a different theme song every year. Later they play marchinhas, sambas, the traditional Carnaval repertoire.
There are Bandas and Blocos of all sizes. Cordão da Bola Preta and Monobloco attract over one million each. Bloco da Preta half a million. Theme neighborhood blocos complete the picture. From the traditional nuns and priests of Bloco das Carmelitas to beatniks at Sargento Pimenta!
Carnaval Balls and Parties
Carnaval balls had their golden era in the 50's and the tradition lingers on. The luxury Costume Ball at Copacabana Palace dates back to the 20's! It still attracts celebrities and socialites, who wear a tuxedo or a luxury costume. There is live music and glamour.
The Carnaval beats that you hear on these balls are marchinhas, favorite songs we listen to since childhood. There may be one or more star attractions performing, sambas are also in the song list, often powered by percussion bands of Samba Schools. Wear a costume and enjoy! Most Blocos promote balls at larger clubs, always fun!
Dance Parties with the best Brazilian and international D's are the main dish at the off-Carnival scene. Most clubs and label parties have a Carnaval edition or more. As most people try to do a little of everything, we suggest you sample the variety, too.
Rio Music Conference, that starts before and ends together with Carnaval, always brings household names to mega events. Gay and LGBTQ parties are also big. We have close connections to the night scene, and we publish daily everything we find worth doing. Our daily Carnaval editions complement the awarded Carnaval Party Planner.
Gossip, safety, lodging, photos...
We collect funny Carnaval stories because they happen every year with different personalities. Most are of public knowledge but always worth reminding. Our pages are also infected with Carioca insights and expertise.
Your safety is our concert. Street festivities are open and crowded. They are well patrolled but anyone with a pickpocket agenda will try to... work? Be street-smart., do not take stuff you do not need, make sure valuables are safely stored in your front pockets, Do not be paranoid, being alert is enough if you're not absent-minded.
Where's the Party?
We knew you were going to ask! Trying to put together the event calendar is like assembling a puzzle. You need all the elements and some experience... We have plenty! Carnaval is our forté since the website went online in 1996.
While we prepare the latest edition of our iconic CARNAVAL PARTY PLANNER, keep up to date with the party scene on our news feed below. If you have a facebook profile, feel free to like our page and visit as often as needed. Rio Night Life is updated nightly, always one day ahead. Get your tips first-hand. This is also a great way to keep in touch!
Some of our Facebook posts
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