Rio Carnival offers one of the best street parties in the world, bar none. It’s a testament that you don’t have to spend top dollars to throw a huge event that draw thousands on average.
Although, there are a number of formal balls and masquerade parties during this time, but there’s nothing like attending revelries organized by blocos and bandas.
You find yourself in the middle of hundreds of thousands of writhing, sweaty and semi-naked crowd fueled not by alcohol, although there’s also plenty of that, but the drums and horns from the street band. Cinema land The public square known as cinema land or Cinelandia hosts one of the best street parties in Rio.
Despite its name, there are not too many cinemas in the area that survived progress. But bars and restaurants line up the square. The songs are usually classical, culled from the 1940s to 1960s, which is why it is the preferred destination for older citizens.
This is also a favorite spot of the hoi polloi. Now, don’t let the thought of partying with the elderly turn you off, Cinelandia spells fun with the capital F. Sambodromo If you are looking for the best street parties in town, look no further than the Sambodromo or the Sambadrome. This is where the parade competition is held, so people naturally gravitate towards it.
Outside the stadium, there is a never-ending menu of samba, dancing, alcohol and people just being silly with the most creative costume they can find. Here, the energy is always high but it ratchets up even more during the Carnival Sunday and Monday when competition among the top schools become intense.
Blocos and bandas of the different neighborhoods also troop here in support of the samba schools. Sambadrome, by default, is where you should be.
Blocos and Bandas The best street parties are those hosted by blocos and bandas or the street bands. They march through pre-determined routes and growing each minute as cariocas and even tourists join in until they finish the parade.
Then, the after-parade party commences. During the Carnival, you can expect at least 300 of these best street parties mushrooming all over Rio. Avenida Rio Branco Owing to the Carnival’s reputation as throwing the best street parties, the crowd seems to get bigger and bigger each year. It’s getting quite difficult to find new avenues to handle the multitude.
Cordao do Bola Preta, the oldest street band in Rio, used to perform in Copacabana beach because of its popularity. Now, it’s found a new home in Avenida Rio Branco. Also in this stretch of road, you can party with Bafo do Onca and Cacique de Ramos, considered as institutions in throwing the best street parties, starting on Carnival Saturday and lasting until Fat Tuesday, the day prior to the start of Lent. Street bands There’s a distinction between a bloco and banda.
Although they are similar in a lot of ways, bandas refer to groups which include bass instruments in their performances. They are not paid by the government but supported by the eager neighborhoods. They practice their sheet music and the choreography for months to be showcased at the carnival. In order to raise money, they strive to throw out the best street parties to draw in more crowds, sell shirts or costumes and other souvenir items, just so they can do it all over again next Carnival.
Christ’s Armpit, Volta Alice and Simpatia e Quase Amor always attract the biggest crowds. You have to be alert, however, because these street bands just drop everything and transfer to another location once the mob proves too big to handle.
Partying with a true icon The Banda de Ipanema started performing in 1965, back when Brazil was still under military rule which lasted for two decades. In 2004, the band was declared part of the cultural heritage of Rio. But that’s not just the reason you attend one of its events. Banda de Ipanema actually throws three of the best street parties in town leading to the Carnival.
Head off to General Osorio Park for the start of the parade then you trudge down Vieira Souto Avenue, turn to Rua Visconde de Piraja then circle back to the General Osorio Park. You can go there by 4 p.m. because that’s when the crowd starts to mill.
Two hours later, the party starts. You can always tell because Banda de Ipanema plays its theme song, Cidade Maravilhosa.
Bring lots of energy; you’ll need all of it. Carnival season in full swing During the Carnival season, the major thoroughfares where street bands perform are closed off. There are no metal barriers between the street bands and the spectator crowd, all the more to encourage them to let loose and join in the fun.
Try to join the gay parades even if you are straight and then you can really let loose by dressing as a drag queen. The Banda da Sa Ferreira, Banda da Santa Clara and Bloco Suvaco de Cristo also built reputations for throwing the best street parties in the Carnival.