New Years Eve spent on the Copacabana is nothing short of spectacular! The second biggest event in Rio (after Carnaval) is Reveillion - New Years Eve. It's estimated 2 million people head to the famous beach to enjoy the live music and at midnight - the firework extravaganza.
Many people start heading to the beach early, around 2pm, it'll be a long day though as celebrations go on all night long. Going at 10pm you'll still be able to find a spot somewhere. With so many people heading to the beach, it's important to choose the right place for you. Anywhere near the stages, and especially outside the famous Copacabana Palace get PACKED. It can be difficult to move around, keep hold of friends, and find toilets. Choose somewhere a other than here to stay for the night and you'll find it much more comfortable. Don't miss our unmissable top tips to get you ready for the big night - they really could make or break your night.
If you're looking to go for a nice meal before the events, many local restaurants offer exclusive New Years Eve menus. Keep in mind that the prices are more expensive, especially if there is a view of beach from your dinner table. The most elegant place to be for the evening is the Copacabana Palace but there are plenty of other hotels offering New Years Eve buffets. Be sure to make a reservation.
The beach kiosk’s are also an option, it’s cheaper and you’re right at the beach.
The spectacular fireworks show begins at midnight. More than 10 Barges set offshore set off the fireworks high into the sky to the cheers of the people celebrating the new year. Each year the show lasts for somewhere betweeen 15 and 30 minutes. As well as the 2 million people on the beach, plenty of boats and cruise ships line the waters to join in the fun.
Around 7 or 8pm the party really gets started. Various live music stages along the beach nearby Copacabana Palace kick off the celelbrations, ranging from Samba (of course), popular brazilian music (MPB) and Rock. Every few years they tend to have big International artists play as well.
All Brazilians celebrate New Year’s Eve wearing white to bring good luck for the next year. Some in the crowd will add a splash of color. Red is for romance, yellow for success and green for health. Do not wear black or you will be doomed throughout the coming year. Many locals will bring flowers to the seashore and toss them into the sea throughout the evening. This is a tribute to Yemanja the goddess of the seas. Some locals go so far as to include beauty sets. These kits include soap, lipstick and powder. Candomble stores actually sell them in light blue and white wooden boats. These little boats are set to sea in thanks for a blessing or a wish granted in the old year. Cariocas use the beach to send offers to Iemanja, including flowers, bottles of champaign and fruits in small wooden boats to be sent off to the Atlantic for good fortune.
Because of the unusually busy traffic right after the fireworks it is best to plan a trip to a nearby club to wait out the gridlock. There are many nightclubs and bars within walking distance of Copacabana where you can carry on the celebration. There are even some clubs where you can begin your partying before the fireworks and then get a bracelet so you can go see the display and come back. For those staying up all night, many of the hotels along Copacabana Beach serve very early breakfast buffets that usually include a glass of champagne.
With such a huge influx of people, getting around might be a bit tricky. The road in front of Copacabana is closed off to traffic from 6 pm on New Years Eve to 4 a.m. January 1st. Hailing taxis is the easiest method to get around in the nearby blocks. Tickets for the metro need to be bought ahead of time; they are sold in the Carioca, Estacio or Pavuna stations and sales close at 6 p.m. on December 31st, or when tickets run out. It is advisable to purchase tickets ahead of time if you have plans to use the metro, for there are half a million tickets available for the approximately 3 million people. There are also tourist buses that drop people off that start and return to Botafogo, north of Copacabana, and regular public buses run freely (but are, of course, crowded).
DO NOT take any valuables you're not ready to lose. A money belt is a great idea and if taking a camera - make sure you back up your photos before, just in case. With lots of alcohol, partying, sand, sea and pickpocketers around... it'll be a good move.
Book accomodation early to avoid disappointment, most of Rio de Janeiro gets fully booked very early each year for New Year! Expect prices to be higher than normal and most hotels have minimum night stays.
We highly recommend not to go in the area in front of the Copacabana Palace. It gets incredibly busy, you'll hardly be able to move, let alone find a toilet. With so many people pushed so close together, gives pickpockets the ideal opportunity. Pick a spot either side and you'll find it far more relaxed and safer.
Champagne is popular with the crowd. Do not feel shy to bring a bottle and open it at midnight. Many in the crowd will shake the bottle so it will douse the crowd. They actually appreciate getting wet by the champagne as this too is considered good luck.
It's busy that going to get a quick drink or visit the toilet can easily turn from a quick 10 minute trip to an hour! Be sure not to venture away from the beach anywhere near midnight!
Lots of people do, but it's not highly advisable to wear sandals or flip-flops to the celebration, there can be lots of broken glass on the floor during the night. Instead wear closed toe sensible shoes.
Stick together and exchange phone numbers - there's so many people there it's very easy to lose eachother, find a place you're happy with and keep it as a base.
Many people start heading to the beach early, around 2pm, it'll be a long day though as celebrations go on all night long. Going at 10pm you'll still be able to find a spot somewhere. With so many people heading to the beach, it's important to choose the right place for you. Anywhere near the stages, and especially outside the famous Copacabana Palace get PACKED. It can be difficult to move around, keep hold of friends, and find toilets. Choose somewhere a other than here to stay for the night and you'll find it much more comfortable.