The Carnival of Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro Carnival
Carnival and Brazil are synonymous. The birthplace of modern Carnival is considered to be Brazil and Rio de Janeiro.
From the 21st to the 28th of February, approximately 2 million people will take part in a series of daily events to celebrate and indulge before Lent.
Image by: Celso Pupo Rodrigues
The streets become filled with parties, parades, decoration and festivities. Samba schools are formed and elaborate dance routines are performed in every corner of the city.
These festivities culminate in an epic display within the equally impressive Sambadrome – the home of the Rio de Janeiro Carnival.
What can you expect from the Rio de Janeiro Carnival?
Expect to not know which way to look and expect a true spectacle! This week-long celebration of samba, dance, music and freedom of expression is like no other.
The Carnival of Rio de Janeiro is the largest in the world and will surely not disappoint. The following is a list of annual events that take place during the carnival celebrations:
Escolas de Samba Mirins / Crowning of King Momo
On the opening Friday of the carnival, two main events take place. Firstly, we have the crowning of King Momo. King Momo is a legendary character in Latin American festivities and considered to be the king of carnivals – he originates from the Greek mythological god Momus.
King Momo. Image by: Paulo Guereta
Traditionally, King Momo crowning takes place and then he proceeds to dance to officially open the festivities. As soon as the King dances, a parade and celebrations erupt around him.
The king will usually dance through the Sambadrome in a series of antique carriages surrounded by a troupe of chosen Samba dances. Furthermore, the current mayor of Rio will usually present Momo with the key to the city.
If your in Colombia during the festival dates, then don’t worry! The Barranquilla Carnival is your option
This event is the first of many parades and is a wonderful spectacle. King Momo is a highly regarded position and respected among carnival lovers.
Once the king has officially opened the carnival, it is time for the first children’s parade. The first samba display of the carnival is also held on Friday and takes place in the Sambadrome.
12 different samba schools each perform a wonderful dance routine in the parade. You can expect elaborate floats and costumes, fantastic theme music, and sublime samba dancing.
Special Group Samba Parades – Friday to Monday
In the days following the carnival opening, there is a series of orchestrated Samba parades. From Friday through to Monday there are two access displays and two special group performances.
During each procession, the 12 competing samba groups entertain the crowds with a series of awe-inspiring displays.
Image by: Sarah.Ahearn
As the competition is highly respected, expect dancing, music and performing like nothing else you have witnessed. The energy and atmosphere are electric.
Each samba school parades through the Sambadrome and performs carefully choreographed routines. The routines are accompanied by vocal performances and rhythmic drum beats.
Each school chooses a specific theme (such as the jungle, magic or fantasy for example) complete with matching costumes, floats and music. The costumes and floats combine together to create imagery and display their chosen theme to the spectators.
The variety and difference between each schools display is mesmerizing – to see 12 unique and colourful parades is quite monumental. Performers dance in time to the music and make their way along the Sambadrome parade area.
Features of the Samba School
Each parade will feature some key components. To provide you with a little background information, we have listed some of the main features of a Samba school parade:
- Baianas: Whirling ladies dressed in spectacular fanned costumes
- Bateria: Drummers that provide energy and rhythm for the samba dancers
- Passistas: Dancers and vocalists who provide rhythm and song
- Destaques: A chosen group of performers who wear the most lavish costumes
Aside from the above, each samba school may also have their own floats and parade trucks. Each school has their own style and theme and the attention to detail is truly fantastic.
Baianas. Image by: Nicolas de Camaret
Rio de Janeiro Carnival Winners Parade
When the results of the special group parades have been determined, the winner’s parade can take place. This parade usually takes place on the first Saturday after the initial competitions have taken place – in 2020 it will be on the 29th of February.
This parade is epic in every sense of the word. The six top samba schools get the chance to show their skills once again to thousands of spectators at the Sambadrome.
As the winners have been announced, the atmosphere is much more relaxed and you can see the joy on the performer’s faces. The winner’s parade usually attracts an immense turnout and many celebrities attend this event.
If you obtain tickets for this closing parade, you are guaranteed a night of colourful and electric entertainment.
Other Events near Rio Carnival
If you cannot obtain tickets for any of the main Sambadrome events don’t worry – there are plenty of other festivities to attend! Throughout the city, the locals will join together in “Blocos”- these are awesome street parties that anyone can be a part of.
Bloco. Image by: Antonio Schubert
We advise scouring the streets around your hotel and the Sambadrome to find a Blocos. You will not forget the experience! A Blocos is basically a huge party.
You can expect dancing, music, food and other frivolities. The atmosphere of a Blocos is stupendous and everyone simply has a good time and parties in true Brazilian style.
The Carnival of Rio de Janeiro – an epic celebration like no other
So does the Carnival of Rio de Janeiro live up to its expectations? Of course, it does! As the largest carnival in the world, this event is a true wonder.
Brazil has a reputation for fantastic carnivals, and Rio de Janeiro is the pinnacle of their creations. If you attend one major carnival in your lifetime, why not do it in style and see the most spectacular and entertaining event in the world?
The Rio de Janeiro Carnival is everything you would expect – loud, proud, vibrant, rhythmic and over the top. It stands as a testament to the spirit and creativity of the Brazilian people. If this sounds like something you would enjoy (of course you would, who wouldn’t!) why not start planning your carnival adventure today?