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- Posted:Thursday, January 24, 2013
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It’s synonymous with the city, it’s on many people’s ‘bucket list’, it’s a massive draw to Rio de Janeiro for thousands of travellers, and it’s one heck of a party... it’s Carnival! Every year before Lent starts, thousands of party-goers flock to Rio for four days of parades and parties for one of the world’s biggest festivals.
Here’s what you can expect during the festivities:
A stadium of samba
The Sambadrome was designed by the famous Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer and it’s a permanent parade route that’s lined with concrete spectator stands and can cater for around 70,000 people. The parade route is 700m long and you’ll find it along a stretch of Avenida Marquês de Sapucaí, right between Avenida Presidente Vargas and Rua Frei Caneca. During Carnival, Rio’s samba schools showcase many parades along this route. You need tickets to watch the parades, but they vary in price depending on what’s on show and where you want to sit.
Lots of parades
There are parades taking place every day during Carnival at the Sambadrome, but if you want to see a performance from one of the top twelve schools then get a ticket for Sunday, February 12th and Monday, February 13th. They are a late night affair as they don’t start until 9pm and go on through the night. There’s also a competitive element to the parades as they all compete for a place in the ‘Champions parade’ on February 16th. Each school picks a theme for their parade and they include elaborate floats, dancers, musicians and drummers.
‘King Momo’ is the King of the Carnival and he has the job of opening all of the parades during the Rio Carnival. This role is traditionally filled by a tall, big man as the original King Momo was of that stature.
Another much loved part of Rio de Janeiro's Carnival is the many balls that are held around the city. These balls take place in locations around the city, with tickets ranging in prices. They’re all about celebrating music, dancing and very colourful costumes. The most famous of all of them is Magic Ball at the Hotel Copacabana Palace where you might even run into some VIPs.
Make your way to the Praça Onze area of the city to find Samba Land (Terreirão do Samba) for one big outdoor party. There’s a big stage with live music, singing and dancing, and food and drink stalls open throughout the night. There’s an entry fee of R$15 and you can party from 7pm right through until dawn.
And lots of free activities to take part in...
A lot of the main events for Carnival are fee paying, but even if you’re on a tight budget you can still take part in the celebrations. Keep an eye out for the many street parties taking place over Carnival throughout the city. These parties are all about spontaneity and being happy, with lots of dancing in the open air included. You’ll find the biggest of these on Cinelândia Square.
On Samba Parade days you’ll find a great atmosphere around the Sambadrome, where people start little parties of their own. Also, check out the area around the Arches of Lapa which has been known to throw a few surprise performances for the crowds that gather.