Rio Carnival Dancers Rio Carnival Dancers

Rio de Janeiro Carnival

Rio de Janeiro Carnival is the world’s largest parties. It is a five day celebration of revelry, 40 days before Easter. It officially begins on Saturday and finishes on Fat Tuesday with the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday after which one is supposed to abstain from all bodily pleasures. Although the official Carnival in Rio starting day is Saturday, the partying begins in earnest the night before and continues through Tuesday. Celebrated as a democratic celebration, the Rio de Janeiro Carnival is considered to be an act of farewell to the pleasures of the flesh.
Although Carnival, or Carnaval in Portuguese, is celebrated throughout Brazil and other Catholic countries, Rio de Janiero Carnival is undoubtedly the biggest and most famous carnival worldwide. That is why it was called the Carnival Capital of the World. The event takes more than half the year to organize and attracts millions of tourists from all corners of the world each year. Carnival mobilizes more than 500.000 workers, involves an enormous supply chain, and generates significant income for the city. The tourism sector begins to sell travel packages in August. The Carnival usually happens in February, the hottest month in the Southern Hemisphere, when the Rio summer is at its peak.
The Rio de Janeiro Carnival was held for the first time in 1723, but carnival in its current form can traced back to the Portuguese who brought the celebrations of carnival to Brazil around 1850. French brought the practice of holding balls and masquerade parties. But soon the Brazilian traditions became different, they acquired unique elements deriving from African and Amerindian cultures.
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Celebrations take place throughout the city and most of the costumed crowd at the street festivals are locals. The liveliness of the Brazilian people, called cariocas in Rio de Janeiro, comes out in full force during Rio Carnival. Naturally happy and easy-going, the cariocas take to the streets during Carnival week, singing, dancing, and merry-making in block parties throughout the city. Crowds take to the streets to celebrate life, in an atmosphere of unity and happiness.
As the most famous dance in Brazil is the samba – a Brazilian dance with African influences – one of Carnival’s main purposes today is to bring Samba schools together to compete with rival schools. A Samba school can either be an actual school or just groups of locals that want to attend the carnival parade. Each of these Samba schools try to make the most flamboyant costumes and best floats of the event. There is a strict order that each school follows, including a mandatory wing of at least 100-strong female-only marchers that accompany the various floats during the procession.
The central event during the Carnival is the Samba Parade which takes place in the Sambadrome - a 700 m long parade strip flanked by spectator stands and luxury boxes. The parade is invigorated by samba schools which evolve each night, parading through the Sambadrome in elaborate, bright, and colorful costumes. Each school puts on their best show and does their best dancing in order to win the title and perform in Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival Winner’s Parade. On the last Sunday and Monday nights before Lent, the seats are filled with over 85,000 eager on-lookers. Tickets cost up to hundreds of dollars each and sell out quickly. If you can afford to fork out for a ticket, it'll be a night you'll never forget. If not, hang around outside the Sambadrome and check out the fabulous floats and people in costume who are preparing for their 20 minutes in the limelight.
During the Rio de Janeiro Carnival there are a big variety of balls held in the Copacabana Palace and on the beach. For most of the Rio Carnival balls, wearing costumes is not mandatory. Nevertheless, wearing one will help you get in the right mood and will make the night even more special. Balls usually don't start until 11pm and go strong until sunrise. A ticket to most Carnival balls will cost you around 40.00 USD to 1800.00 USD, and you can book in advance online or with the help of your hotel.
To experience the Rio de Janeiro Carnival, make sure to book your Rio hotel accommodations early, since hotel bookings often fill up a year in advance; especially the best hotels in the Zona Sul. It’s a good idea to book at least 2 or 3 months beforehand. Tickets to the Parade at the Sambadrome go on sale two weeks before Carnival. Again, book them in advance as on the day prices are at a premium.
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