Rio de Janeiro Carnival

The origins of the Rio de Janeiro Carnival date back to the 17th century and this is the most famous carnaval in Brazil and probably in the whole wide world.

This page is updated regulary to bring all the information and useful links together for you to enjoy the Carnival in Rio - whether you happen to be here in Rio or anywhere else in the globe.

The main days of Carnaval 2013, ie. the parades of the best samba schools (escolas de samba) in the Sambodromo will be held between 8th and 12th February but the Carnival is much more than that.

Rio Carnival 2012 Photo by Tom Cookson, on Flickr

Samba Parades in the Sambodromo

The colorful parade in the Sambodromo is not only a gratuitous festival but also a serious competition. The samba schools' performances are judged for ten categories and by 40 judges and the school with the highest combined score becomes the Carnival Champion for the year.

You need to buy tickets to attend the following carnival events in the main venue:

  • 8th-9th February, 2013
    Parade of Samba Schools in the Access Group
  • The 19 samba schools in the Access Group are warming up Sambodromo on Friday and Saturday night, starting from 21.00h both days.

  • 10th-11th February, 2013
    Parade of Samba Schools in the Special Group
  • This is the peak of the Carnival. Both days, Sunday and Monday, 6 of the best samba schools in Rio parade through the Sambodromo from 21.00h.
    This year's themes to dance to include Rock in Rio, telenovelas and oil.

    The 12 samba schools in the Special Group are:

    Inocentes de B. Roxo, Salgueiro, Unidos da Tijuca, Uniao da Ilha, Mocidade, Portela on the first night
    Sao Clemente, Mangueira, Beija-Flor, Grande Rio, Imperatriz, Vila Isabel on the 2nd night.

  • 12th February, 2013
    Parade of Children's Samba Schools
  • The new generation of samba dancers have the chance of showing their talents too! The children's samba schools are affiliations of the big samba shools and have their own parade in the Sambodromo on Tuesday, starting from 19.00h.

  • 16th February, 2013
    Champions Parade
  • The following Saturday, the 6 best samba schools from the Special Group marches again through the Sambodromo from 21.00h.

The Independent League of Rio de Janeiro Samba Scools website is a great source of information about the history of the Rio de Janeiro Carnival and the samba schools.

Participate in the Parade!

If you don't want to buy a ticket to the shows at Sambodromo, you can participate for free by joining one of the samba schools in the parade. However, it is not completely free of charge: you will have to purchase one of the carnival costumes of the school you are parading with.

You are not required to go to the rehearsals, just show up at your school's meeting point before the parade.

Technical Researsals

If you are already in Rio in January, you can get a sneak peek of the Carnival for absolutely free! The technical rehearsals in the Sambodromo start around mid-January and give you the opportunity each weekend to go and see as the samba schools practise for the Big Day.

You won't get the full monty, only certain parts of the show at a time, but it will give you an idea.

Carnival Street Parties or Carnaval da Rua

In Rio, the Carnaval is not limited to the parades in the Sambodromo. Hundreds of samba groups (blocos) in different neighborhoods have their street patries all over Rio and you are free to join them. Here is the schedule of street blocos from 24th January till 27th February with starting times, dates and locations.

Time Out Rio lists the street blocos in Zona Sul: Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon, Leme, Botafogo, Flamengo, Lagoa and several other neighbourhoods.

Rio de Janeiro street carnival Photo by Simon Plestenjak, on Flickr

Check out Rachel's invaluable advice on how to survive a Rio de Janeiro Carnaval bloco, it's a must read for first time carnival-goers!

Rio de Janeiro Dog Carnival

Did you know that the Carnaval in Rio is not the privilege of two-legged samba dancers only?

Check out these really funny dog pics if you want to see some crazy dog costumes!

Follow the Rio de Janeiro Carnival

If you are not in Rio this time, make sure you follow the livestream broadcasted by Globo Tv. You can also watch Rio Carnival videos and Rio Carnival photos to get the carnival feeling.

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