The Carnival in Rio attracts at least a million tourists each year, an astounding figure that speaks volumes about its popularity. Held on the heels of the heavy rains brought about by tropical savanna climate and just prior to the commemoration of Catholic Lent, the Carnival has become a week-long memorial to life and extravagance. You will learn for yourself how the Carnival lives up to its distinction as being the “Greatest Show on Earth” and the reason why long-time visitors keep coming back for more.
The Carnival in Rio in its very core is a celebration of dance. If you visit for the first time, you may be drawn by the sway of the performers’ hips, the vibrancy of colors and the flamboyance of the costumes. But these are just trappings to what Carnival is all about.
The cariocas, as what the residents of Rio are known, understand that samba is not only about the swinging of the hips, but rather the pride of culture. That is why the twelve samba schools handpick the dancers to represent them. They are chosen not only by their skill but also by their commitment. You will surely appreciate the perseverance of these dancers as they sashay and swing to the beat of the drums even past the point of exhaustion.
The dedication of the samba schools is unparalleled. In fact, it would not be an understatement to say that they exist solely for the chance to perform at the Sambadrome. These schools spend nearly a year’s worth of rigorous planning on the choreography, the samba song, costumes and the dancers who will represent them at Sambadrome during the Carnival in Rio.
The Sambadrome is a concrete stadium with bleachers on each side separated by a long alley where the dancers can perform. You can plan beforehand your seating arrangements by contacting your travel agent or booking online.
It’s best to buy tickets during Carnival Sunday and Carnival Monday because that’s when the most popular samba schools make their presentations.
Depending on your budget, you can choose the luxury suites or camarotes, the frisas or translated as open boxes or the bleachers.
Perhaps, the most sought after ticketed party during the Carnival in Rio is the Magic Ball hosted by the Copacabana Palace Hotel, which lures the rich and the famous.
But if you are conscious of your budget, you can always take part in the countless “Blocos de Rua” or loosely translated as street groups or street bands. An estimated 400 block parties are organized by these groups. If you feel a little bit adventurous, you can try the Red and Black Ball or attend the Gay Costume Ball at Scala Club located in Downtown.
Better bring your “A” game because these parties last until sunrise.
Even if you came to party, it would be a tragic to ignore the other attractions that Rio has to offer as well. The beaches in the southern district of the city are truly world-class and a trip to the Carnival in Rio would not be complete without hiking Sugarloaf Mountain to get a panoramic view of the city.