Rio Carnival

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Rio Carnival

The first Carnival festival in Rio occurred in 1723. It is considered the biggest carnival in the world, with two million people per day on the streets.

The typical Rio carnival parade is filled with revelers, floats, and adornments from numerous samba schools which are located in Rio (more than 200 approximately, divided into five leagues/divisions). A samba school is composed of a collaboration of local neighbours that want to attend the carnival together.

Rio’s Carnival begins on the Friday preceding Lent and ends on Ash Wednesday, but the Winners’ Parade happens on the Saturday after the carnival ends.

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In 1984, the government decided to give Rio Carnival its new home in the Sambadrome (Sambadrome Marquês de Sapucaí, map). Today, some of the most famous events of Rio Carnival are ticketed events.

There are different types of Sambadrome tickets that are available for purchase. Grandstand tickets are general admissions tickets that are available on a first-come, first-served basis and are not allocated ahead of time. Frisas are open air box seats located along the samba runway. Camarotes are luxury boxes situated between the frisas and the grandstands.

Sector 9 is the tourist sector which are the same as grandstand tickets, with the difference being that they are allocated so people have assigned seats. The cheapest sectors are 12 and 13.

Tickets can be bought in advance through international brokers, or through local travel agents in Rio de Janeiro. ‘Purchase of a ticket’ normally means purchase of a voucher which is then exchangeable for the ticket close to the date.

As the parade is taking place in the Sambadrome and the balls are being held in the Copacabana Palace (map) and beach, many carnival participants are at other locations. Street festivals are very common during carnival and are highly populated by the locals. Anyone is allowed to participate in the street festivals.

While the biggest street party takes place right outside the Sambadrome, the largest organized street dance is typically found on Cinelândia Square (map) in Rio’s Centro.

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The most famous dance is carnival samba, a Brazilian dance with African influences. The samba remains a popular dance not only in carnival but in the ghettos outside of the main cities. The samba that is found in Rio is Battucanada, referring to the dance and music being based on percussion instruments. It “is born of a rhythmic necessity that it allows you to sing, to dance, and to parade at the same time.”  This is why the batucada style is found in most all of Rio’s street carnivals.

Public transport

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Rio de Janeiro Metro (wiki) / VLT – Tram

Sugar Loaf cable car.

 BUS >   In Rio de Janeiro, buses are the main form of public transportation. Busca Ônibus | Bus Stations (*Bus transport in Rio de Janeiro). Most popular lines for tourists are 583 and 584 (from Copacabana and Ipanema to Corcovado railway station), as well as 464 and 435 (from Copacabana to Maracanã). Buses 511 (Ataulfo de Paiva) and 512 (Bartholomeu Mitre) are also popular as they take you to Urca for the station to take the cable car up the Sugarloaf mountain.

The long-distance bus depot >> Rodoviária Novo Rio (map). Green Toad Bus – knows that booking local transport and activities around South America can be challenging and confusing at times. We make it easy, safe, cheap & fun with our carefully designed Bus Travel Passes! Busca Ônibus is a useful resource for finding bus schedules.

 RAIL >   SuperViaSerra Verde

 AIRPORTS >   Most all airports with regular passenger traffic are operated by the federal – Infraero. They have a very convenient website, with an English version. By far, the largest international airport in Brazil is São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport. The second largest airport is Rio de Janeiro-Galeão International Airport.

 WATERWAYS >   In northern Brazil, it is possible to travel many distances by boat. In fact, the boat is the main and most accessible means of transport to get around the Amazon, since the Amazon Forest is cut by many rivers and some cities are inaccessible by road. The best boat services in the country are in the Amazon, where you can ride on speedboats and comfortable yachts or small wooden boats.