Before going on your trip to the Greatest Show on Earth, it’s best to first check the Rio Carnival program to maximize your stay there.
The only way to soak all the experiences offered by the Carnival is to mingle with the cariocas and other tourists in street dances, balls and the never-ending parties. Realistically speaking, you can only attend so many parties. As of latest count, there are 500 block parties in the whole of Rio de Janeiro. Some obviously are better than others. It’s best to know which is which.
A party on each corner
From the time they evolved out of the original Cordoes in the late 1800s, the blocos and bandas have established themselves as totally inseparable from the yearly success of the Carnival. Each bloco represents one neighborhood.
Each group has a theme song as well as an array of other renditions to keep the crown in frenzied state for hours on end. The famous blocos include Monobloco, maybe the biggest party-thrower in town; the Cordao do Bola Preta, being the oldest of the bunch; and Suvaco de Cristo, maybe for the name alone.
After all, it’s translated as Christ’s armpit. If on a budget, stay downtown.
Easy pickings from your Rio Carnival program
The best thing about the Carnival is you don’t have to spend money to gain entry to most of these parties. If you are on a budget, stay clear of the organized balls by hotels and nightclubs like in Copacabana and Rio Scala.
Just look for people who gather in one area and chances are, a party is about to start. What most people don’t known is that a good majority of the parties in Rio very spontaneous. Even if the whole festivity is anchored on samba and costumes, no street party from the Rio Carnival program is the same.
You can first check the scene in Rio Branco, Cinelandia and outside the Sambadrome because they are reputed to hold the best parties.
The heart of samba
There’s an area in downtown Rio they call Samba Land. This is supposedly where samba originated.
Until now, the area still pulsates of energy during the Carnival. The street band here plays from seven in the evening until 3 a.m. or even beyond that, depending on the crowd.
While you are partying, also take time to visit all the attractions here when you have time. To save time, you can check out the many performances in Samba Land through your Rio Carnival Schedule.
Behind the scenes
All those amazing choreography that you see at the Sambadrome takes months of practice. Good thing you can check out some of their rehearsals a few months and weeks leading to the parade competition. Seeing the hard work that goes into each performance, from the sewing of the costumes, preparing the choreography, building of the float, gives a spectator a new perspective on the performances.
The top schools also hold samba nights and you can attend these events for free. To ensure you don’t miss anything, the prudent thing is to always check your Rio Carnival program so you can plan your itinerary beforehand.