Carnaval in Rio!!!

Posted by on Feb 18, 2013 in Brazil, Play-by-plays, South America | 1 comment

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After leaving Iguaçu Falls, I hopped on a plane and headed north to Rio de Janeiro a city known for its amazing beaches, its rich history and of course Carnaval. As soon as I got to Rio I understood why many people decide not to leave – the city is absolutely beautiful. From the sprawling beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema to the very famous Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) that stands at the top of Corcovado Mountain; Rio has everything a person would want.

Since I was in Rio for Carnaval, I wanted to jump right into the Carnaval festivities and head to the Sambodromo (the venue where the samba schools parade). Thanks to my host, I quickly learned that Carnaval is not just one big parade at and around the Sambadrome. Carnaval events consist of Carnaval balls (very elegantly themed parties), blocos (block parties with live bands) and of course the samba school parades held primarily at the Sambodromo (where some samba schools have up to 5000 members) but also throughout Rio. Although my intentions were to see the parade from the stands, my wallet didn’t comply. Tickets to the Sambodromo were quite expensive and given my new found knowledge of the other Carnaval activities, I decided that instead of scalping tickets, I’m just going to head back to Rio for Carnaval next year!!! While I didn’t attend myself, it’s impossible for me to write a post about Carnaval and not have at least one picture from the parade. Here are some pictures from a friend who actually planned ahead and saw the parade from the stands. Also, check out his blog.



Since I didn’t go to the Sambodromo or get a chance to join one of the Samba schools, I did take part in the “Carnaval action” by grabbing a drum and processing at one of the blocos. Blocos are street parties where a band, usually a brass band and a group of drummers, play music and process through the streets while people follow behind them. Blocos have always been a part of Carnaval and most Carioca’s (natives of Rio) still view them as the “true” Carnaval event. Blocos began as small family/community parties but are now held daily and can be found in every neighborhood around Rio. There are now even “themed” blocos including a Sgt. Pepper themed bloco (where Beatles songs are remixed to samba beats) and a Super Mario Brothers themed bloco where everyone dresses up as characters from the popular video game. I attended around 7 or 8 blocos within different neighborhoods, some that had thousands of folliões (the term for carnaval partiers) and some smaller ones with just few hundred people. I had a great time at them all. Also, please excuse my picture taking skills as it was quite hard to capture good ones with masses of people around you.






After days of partying and lying on the beach (working on my tan) I decided to see more of the cultural side of Rio. Since I was being hosted by a Carioca, I got to learn a lot about the history and culture of Rio and got to see the city from an insider’s perspective. I visited a number of family owned restaurants that have been around for over three generations, and even visited some 100 year old bars that have live samba sessions weekly. I took a walking tour with Rios de Historia Cultural and Historical Tour Operators and learned about Rio from the Portuguese colonial era to Rio’s current cultural and political situation.


This year Carnaval had a record number of tourists (1.1 million) which meant lines for most of the tourist attractions including the Sugar Loaf Mountain and the Corcovado Mountain were very long. With queues of over 6 hours and with 95 degree heat I decided to 1% it and see the sites from a different perspective; I did a helicopter tour. The views were absolutely stunning.

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Unfortunately after 8 days of amazing food, culture and partying I have to leave Rio. I’m now heading south to Parati for a few more days of beach living!!!

One Comment

  1. MGOT baby

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