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Carnival -- Carnaval

Carnaval Slideshow

6am Carnaval Street Party


Experience Carnaval in Rio

Samba in Rio for Carnival

Everyone should experience the world famous Carnival (Carn-A-val in Brazil) at least once in their lives. The typical Rio carnival that you see on TV is the parade through a the purpose-built Sambódrome (Samba-drome). Filled with revellers, extravagent floats and all types of costumes from more than 200 Rio-based samba schools. Each year the various schools choose a subject for their 90 minute parade, such as a country or event and design their mechanical floats and outfits around this.

carnaval drummer

But that's just the beginning! Each day, officially during the carnaval week but unofficially for weeks before and after, many street parties - known as Bloco's (sometimes up to 60 a day) are held all around the city. Roads are closed as hordes of revellers line the streets in fancy dress and light up the place. With the bands marching and the drums vibrating the streets, it's impossible not to dance along to the famous samba beat. Lot's of them have different themes and one of the most popular nowadays is a Beatles tribute, attracting over 100,000 people and, of course, all to the tune of Samba.
All that without even mentioning the huge parties and live music events in bars and clubs around the city. No wonder it's often cited as "the worlds largest party"!!

To find out when and where all the blocos around the city start, we recommend you download the free blocos in Rio app here

Getting There

Street Parties (blocos)

The blocos happen every day of Carnaval all around the city, there can be aroun 60-70 a DAY throughout the city, you'll never be far to one. Near to Carnaval time we'll put a link to the locations and times, as well as the useful Carnaval Bloco app

Sambadrome (parade)

Taxi

Our preferred way is to jump in a taxi. They're relatively cheap in Rio and makes things easier. Once out the taxi, follow the crowds a short 10 minute walk towards to Sambadrome

Getting to the Sambadrome by Subway – Metro Rio Directions

Rio de Janeiro has a very efficient subway system called Metro Rio, with stations connecting virtually every part of the city. The Sambadrome is located conveniently near two subway stops, and the stop at which you get off to arrive to the Sambadrome will differ based on your sector of your ticket (if you have one!), with even sector exiting the subway at the Praça Onze subway station and odd-numbered sectors exiting at the Central subway station.

Arriving to the Sambodromo by subway during Rio Carnival is both convenient and cheap. Metro Rio runs 24 hours a day during Carnival, so when the parade ends at 5 or 6 in the morning, rest assured, the subway will be running. Trains depart from the stations every ten minutes. During Carnival, police and other security officers will be patrolling the subways, which will be quite crowded with revelers — both tourists and Cariocas — all day and all night! Despite the heightened level of security during Carnival, please be advised to exercise caution and keep your valuables out of sight at all times.

Normally, Metro Rio will bring you within a ten minute walk (or less) of the Sambodromo. However, during Carnival, the subway will be packed with people and the streets outside the stations will be equally crowded. You should budget up to 20 minutes for the walk from the subway station to the gates of your sector.

For full information on how to get there by metro, please check the official site


Map of Rio Metro

Rio Carnival Tickets

ticket

Another great thing about Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro is that the Carnival itself doesn't have to cost that much - street parties are all free and you can pick up tickets for the Carnaval parade in the Sambadrome pretty cheap outside the event as well - as long as it's not the best seats you're after. If you get the cheapest If you decide to buy tickets beforehand, careful buying from random websites, many will rip you off or even worse, you might not even receive your tickets.

Rio Carnival sambadrome

Sambadrome on a budget

You don't need to book Sambadrome tickets in advance unless it's the more comfortable, middle area you're looking for, then it might be a good idea. If you're happy as long as you still see it all, tickets can be bought from some hostels, and outside the event for anything from just 20 R, up to about 100R, depending on where they are and who you speak to. No matter where you are you should still get a great view as the parades pass by all the seats, you might just be at the end if you get a cheap ticket - don't worry you won't miss anything!

Sambadrome when budget isn't a problem

The cheapest tickets can cost from as little as 20R ($5) outside the event as stated above, and can go all the way to 1000R+ ($250) for the very best. but if you want a seat nearer the middle we recommend going to a local Rio travel agency to buy your tickets in person (If you're here pre-carnival). You pay your money, and walk out with your tickets in hand and usually with a better discount from most of the online ticket brokers. Best prices can normally be found at the agencies on Avenida NS Copacabana, just past the Copacabana Palace. There are various different agencies and competition among them keeps their prices fairly consistent. If you decide to buy online - like we mentioned above - be careful buying from random websites, many will rip you off or even worse, you might not even receive your tickets. While not the perfect site, we've heard pretty good reports from people using Carnival Bookers.

Opinion

To really get into the Carnaval spirit, we recommend to try and do a bit of everything! The best night to visit the Sambadrome for the parade is usually the carnaval Saturday or Sunday, it can go on until 6am (!), but I few hours there is usually enough, I've been a few times and tend to get there around 10pm which seems perfect.

The blocos (street parties) are great fun. They're all very different and don't have to cost a penny. The best ones can start as early as 6am! Get dressed up, get involved and enjoy yourself!

Rio Carnival street party

Top Tips for Rio Carnival

Don't take your valuables with you when you're out to party for Carnaval. Or buy a money belt and keep them in one of those. You don't tend to see much trouble but in such crowded area's full of people partying, it's a pickpocketers paradise.

The area around the Sambadrome isn't the greatest, you shouldn't have any problems but just be aware of your surroundings and use common sense

The best blocos (street parties) start as early as 6am and will be packed full of people in fancy dress, don't sleep in!

To find out when and where all the blocos around the city start, we recommend you download the free blocos in Rio app here

Get dressed up! All of Rio comes alive in fancy dress over carnaval. Dress as anything you like and get into the spirit of things!

Want to party on the cheap? You can take your own bottles of spirits to the street parties and save a fortune, buy mixers as you follow thr party down the street. The price of beers during carnaval that the street sellers charge is also set by the government, usually around 5R for a big can, bargain.

Top 10 Interesting Facts about Carnival in Rio

  1. Along with all the other carnivals of Brazil, the Rio de Janeiro carnival marks the beginning of Lent, the forty-day sacrifice period before Easter.

  2. In 2011, 4.9 million people took part in the festivities in Rio. 400,000 of those were foreigners. By 2015, it was said that there were 1 MILLION tourists in Rio for Carnival!

  3. The first festival dates back as far as 1723.

  4. There are more than 2 million people on the streets every day during the carnaval

  5. More than 200 different samba schools from Rio participate, divided into 5 leagues / divisions

  6. The main carnival parades takes place in the Sambadrome

  7. The samba dance, originating from the Bahia region with African rhythms, came to Rio de Janeiro around 1920

  8. The carnival is a national holiday in Brazil

  9. Many Rio habitants not wanting to participate in the festival, actually leave the city for quieter places during the festival

  10. It's tradition for men to dress up as women over carnaval, you'll see it everywhere!


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