The Rio Carnaval
Rio Carnaval is considered the biggest carnaval in the world. Every year millions of people come to celebrate the new rio for one week of party. Although officially the carnaval only last 5 days, there are many pré and after parties, making the carnaval last easily more then a week. The carnavalis held each year around the month of February. In fact it is a party held just before the 40 days of fastening. So you can drink, eat and dance as much as you want, before 40 days of living like a nun till Easter.
What to know about Rio Carnaval
The carnaval in Rio de Janeiro could be divided up into 3 main events.
First there are the world known sambaschools who perform in the sambadromo on set dates. If Rio carnaval will be a once in a lifetime for you, make sure you get to see this breathtaking show! In all of my travels i have never seen a show remotely as spectacular as this. Make sure to get you tickets in advance, as they sell out fast and street vendors will sell them for big money on the streets for those who were unlucky to get any. The events in the sambadrome start from 9pm and will easily go on till 4am in the morning. So prepare yourself for a long night if you are planning on going out there, because you do not want to miss any of the action! If you want to be part of the whole parade, which is an exclusive and unique experience, you can actuality buy a costume from one of the sambaschools, learn your little dance and just walk (dance) down the sambodromo. For all details on tickets and costumes check out this website: www.rio-carnaval.net . It is ran by a hotel that provides everything for tourist who want to join the Rio Carnaval.
Second to that are the famous carnaval balls. These are big organised parties in big clubs or venues. The most famous one is by far the Copacabana Palace ball. Be sure to see the whole Rio jet set pass by on their red carpets. Most clubs and big hotels will organize a carnaval ball. Yet they have the air of being pricy and mainly organized for the tourists. Balls mostly come with a dress code, so make sure you come in a suited outfit! Again for all details, check out this website: www.rio-carnaval.net
At last there is the street carnaval or what the locals call the Blocos or Bandas. Anyone is allowed to participate in these street festivals as they are found everywhere at every possible hour of the day during the carnival and are highly populated by the locals. .
You are not expected to dress up very sophisticated for a bloco. A funny had, colorful glasses or some funny attributes will do. Although you will definitely will get extra fun and looks if you do a little effort. For men its common to dress up as a woman, A perfect excuses to experience the freedom of skirts. The first blocos of the day usally start early at around 8am and the last will go to as late as 1am in night. So don't expect super late nights for Blocos. By midnight most people are exhausted of a whole day partying and most of them will head home before midnight. Off course there are plenty of street after parties that last till the early mornings. Make sure you get an application on all the Blocos to plan ahead. Just get into your app store and type in words like “Bloco Rio Carnaval” and you’ll find some. Most are just in Portuguese though.
3 tips for backpackers going to Rio Carnaval
- Team up. Partying down the streets of Rio is just more fun when you are with friends. Besides it is much safer too to go out as a group.
- Bring only cash. Leave the cellphones and cameras at the hostel, you can only lose them. Beers and food is eaily bought at every corner of the street during carnaval.
- Book your hostel or Airbnb well ahead. The whole of Rio will get pretty full during these days of madness.
If you still not sure what to expect, check out my Rio Carnaval video. It will give you a good idea.