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Rio de Janeiro


Without a doubt, Carnival in Rio is the world's most famous party. While the city dances to the beat for days before it begins, official Carnival days are Saturday through Tuesday. During those days, little happens in Rio except Carnival revelry.

The highlight of Carnival is the Samba Parade which is not to be missed! Parades are held at the Sambodromo, with bleachers, tables for six and private covered boxes for twelve all along the parade route. The best parades are on Sunday and Monday nights when the Special Group samba schools light up the Sambodromo. The parade starts approximately between 8pm-9pm and goes on all night until early the next morning. Each night of the Special Group parades feature 6-7 samba schools.

Aside from being a parade, this is also an intense competition. At the parade, forty judges award points based on presentation, song, story, rhythm, dance, musicians and floats. From the moment the first toe of the samba group steps over the starting line until the last heel crosses the finish line, only 65-82 minutes can pass or the group is penalized in judging.   

Each samba school represents a neighborhood or social club of Rio. Throughout the year each samba school brings together supporters to create the parts of their display. A theme is chosen, music written, costumes are created, floats are built, and choreography is created. By December rehearsals have begun, and in time for Christmas the sambas are recorded and released to record shops.

Also be sure to experience Rio’s street parties which are the essence of Carnival. Popular “blocos” and “bandas” march in the streets providing samba music for the many samba dancers following them in costume, plain clothes and even drag. People of all walks of life come together to partake in the fun loving spirit of Carnival to dance, parade and party through the streets.

There are numerous Carnival balls held all over the city of Rio but there are some that are standouts in entertainment for tourists. With live music performed by bands and samba percussion that is supposed to be very loud, balls usually get started around 11pm and go until the sun rises. There are a variety of balls from Gala Balls, Balls for Singles and Gay Balls. Entrance tickets are simply that - entrance only and do not include table or refreshments. Tables may be available for purchase at additional cost. Costumes are not a requirement except at certain balls - check when purchasing.

Because it's the city's biggest party, the Cariocas do party! You can expect somewhat curtailed service despite the best efforts of hotel management. Most hotels have a minimum stay requirement, from 4 to 6 nights. Rates are inflated to reflect demand.


Do as the locals do: have fun, take nothing of value with you as you party, and be prepared for crowds. The ultimate experience of Carnival depends on you!

There are many activities during Carnival. click here to see a listing of some of the more popular activities and events. Many activities are a yearly tradition so subsequent years will have similar activities & schedules.