You are about to venture into the world of the amazing Rio Carnival…great choice! It will most likely be an experience you will never forget. However, unforgettable experiences aren’t always a good thing, right? So, if you are a Carnival “beginner”, you will want to be armed with as much information on this major event as possible to get the most out of your trip.
I am going to share some basic information for people who have never been to the festival. But, I also recommend that you read up on it further to gather some of the massive amounts of information available. The more you know about it ahead of time, the better equipped you will be to take it all in and enjoy.
Out of the many Brazilian festivals and carnivals, the Rio Carnival is by far the most authentic and intoxicating. After all, Rio is notorious as the Carnival Capital of the World. Mark your calendar…February 28 – March 5, 2014…for a truly unforgettable event!
In the Beginning…
You will find multiple theories on how Carnival actually began, including tales of pagan celebrations in Rome from ancient times. However, Carnival Balls grew in popularity in Rio de Janeiro back in the 19th century, with the Municipal Theater and Copacabana Palace Hotel as the hosts. Afro Brazilian dance and culture became a strong influence with samba taking lead in the Samba Parades, starting in the 1930’s.
Rio boasts a wonderful blend of ethnicity like no other region in the world, which makes this festival an amazing experience. The diversity of culture is evident as you take in the uniqueness of Rio’s Carnival.
Where to Stay
While you can experience Carnival in other areas of Brazil, the heart of it can be found in Rio de Janeiro. It might be intimidating to think of where to stay, if you have never been to Carnival, or even Rio. However, the majority of hotels in Rio will offer deals and packages during the festival.
All inclusive packages are readily available for the 6 nights the festival runs, which will often include airfare, as well as food and beverage. The list of great hotels to choose from is long with popular options such as Nahuel Huapi, Minas Colonial, Mercure Grand Hotel Internacional Foz, and Zona Sul which is located seaside.
Samba Schools and the Sambadrome
There is plenty to do during Carnival, with many attractions and activities going on for the duration. Without a doubt, the main event is the held at the Sambadrome, located in the heart of downtown Rio. This is where the Samba Parade takes place…and should not be missed! The parade includes many samba dancers who are competing for their schools.
It won’t take long to figure out the crowd favorite of the parade…the Porta Bandeira. While women make up the majority of the parade, the Porta Bandeira, otherwise known as the flag bearer, is the show stopper with an amazing and ornate costume with feathers and sequins galore! You will see incredible samba dance moves as she continues through the parade.
She is not alone though, as the Mestre Sala is there as her “protector”, in an equally amazing costume. One key point to note is that Porta Bandeira is not allowed to let the flag touch the ground, or she will lose points in the competition for her school.
You will also see impressive floats, with beautiful women and costumes dancing the contagious samba steps to get the crowds going.
The city’s normal day to day activities pretty much come to a halt as soon as everybody starts arriving.
Four Nights of Competition
The competition continues for 4 nights of the festival. It begins with the opening ceremony on Friday, with the Mayor of Rio crowning King Momo. The evening then continues with a parade of children and kick starts the mood and tone of the entire festival. And then each of the samba schools will have 80 minutes of parade time, which makes for a spectacular show.
For the next few days you will experience music, theater, dance, and arts like you never have before. On Sunday and Monday, the top 12 samba schools will compete for the championship.
2014 List of Attractions and Events
There are many events and attractions to see while you are experiencing Rio’s Carnival. It’s nearly a week of never-ending action and fun. Take a look at what you will be able to see or partake in:
- Samba Parades
- Carnival Balls
- Magic Ball
- Rio Scala Balls
- Samba Land
- Samba School Nights
- Street Parties
- Street Bands
- Sambodromo Rehearsals
- Street Rehearsals
- Samba City
- Merry Making in Lapa
In fact, there is so much to see and do in Rio that I couldn’t possibly get into significant detail for everything without writing a book. I suggest you take the information above and research it further to see what you don’t want to miss. One thing’s for sure, it’s a party you will never forget!
Hopefully I gave you enough information to pique your interest in gathering more information to tailor your very own Rio Carnival experience!
This article was contributed by Rick Mercado. As a successful online marketer and author, Rick Mercado finds himself on the Internet multiple times a day. He takes advantage of that by gathering information for upcoming series, such as his Brazilian series when visiting Celebrate Brazil. Rick enjoys working from home, but can also be found at the local coffee house on his laptop. When he is not working, he is often outdoors in his hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia, with his wife. In his downtime Rick loves hiking, kayaking, and hopes to become a helicopter pilot someday.