Brazilians use to say the year only begins after Carnival. It is the most expected holiday and biggest festival in the country. The Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is considered to be the greatest in the world, gathering over 2 million people in the streets every day and attracting over 500,000 foreigner tourists to the city.
Even though the Carnival is a religious holiday, it lost its meaning with time for the majority of the population. It is a wild 5-day celebration, 40 days before Easter, so the date changes from year to year. It 2016, Carnival will be celebrated in February 9, so the celebrations start on Friday the 5 and end on Wednesday the 10.
The typical Rio carnival parade takes place in the Sambódromo and is filled with revelers, floats and adornments from numerous samba schools (more than 200 approximately, divided into 5 leagues/ divisions). A samba school is composed of a collaboration of local with some kind of regional, geographical common background.The parade happens on Monday and Tuesday of the Carnival holiday and is broadcasted live.
If you don’t feel like watching the parade, you can always enjoy the street festivals. These are very common during carnival in Rio and are highly populated by the locals. Music and dancing are mandatory and light comfortable clothes are a necessity. Most people usually wear costumes as well! Anyone is allowed to participate in the street festivals, they are free of charge. There will be people selling drinks and foods there, don’t worry!
The street carnival is divided into bandasorblocos, held in strategic places in the city. There can be several different ones happening on one day and people usually jump from one to the other. Music, specifically Samba, is the major aspect of all parts of carnival. There can be more than 300 bandas taking place at any given point in time. Some of the most famous ones are:
Cordão do Bola Preta, Centro (Cinelândia)
Orquestra Voadora, Flamengo
Sargento Pimenta, Flamengo
Banda de Ipanema, Ipanema
Simpatia é Quase Amor , Ipanema
Sovaco do Cristo, Jardim Botânico
Me Beija Que Eu Sou Cineasta, Lagoa
Bloco das Carmelitas, Santa Teresa
If you’re planning to spend Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, here are some recommendations:
- Coconut Water will be your best friend. Between the 40+ºC and the alcohol, you will need to keep very well hydrated.Try drinking one cup (200ml) every 2 or 3 cans of beer to stay health and enjoy the party longer.
- Always carry change and keep your money safe. One good alternative would be to have the money belt.
- Wear closed and comfortable shoes like sports sneakers.
- Arrive early. Brazilians are known for their lack of punctuality and during Carnival is not different, so if you get there when the party is about to start, you will manage to safe yourself a nice spot before it gets too crowded.