It’s wild, wacky, frivolous, loud, and definitely bombastic. The Carnival (Carnaval in Portuguese) is celebrated in almost every Brazilian city and town, but in Rio de Janeiro, it becomes a monumental event during the summer months. The Carnival Capital of the World explodes to life when the fantastic spectacle begins. It’s so grand that it attracts half a million foreign visitors every year.
Rio Carnival is a four-day celebration, held 40 days before the Easter. It starts on Saturday and culminates on Fat Tuesday, before Roman Catholics are supposed to forgo all bodily pleasures. Thus the Carnival, with all the profanities and excesses, can be considered an event where people bid farewell to the pleasures of the flesh.
The modern Rio Carnival has its roots in 1845, when the bourgeoisie imported to the city the practice of holding masquerade parties and balls from Paris. Originally, the festival copied the European version of the celebration. Over time, however, Rio Carnival has acquired elements derived from African and Native American cultures.
The Samba Parade
There’s no doubt that the Rio Carnival highlight is the Samba Parade, also known as Samba Schools Parade. Perhaps the biggest expression of popular culture in Brazil, the parade is a fierce competition between the samba schools in Rio de Janeiro. Spectators and judges watch the parades in the Sambodromo.
The Samba Parade shows to the world Brazil’s best as it’s broadcast live to over 100 countries. This year, the first night will be on February 22 and the second one will be on February 23. Each night, 6 samba schools will parade from 9 in the evening to 5 in the morning. They will compete in categories like harmony, music, costumes, floats and props, and samba song. The top 6 samba schools will parade again on February 28.
What is it like?
The Rio Carnival is a euphoric celebration where people get to see, hear, smell, taste, and touch the exuberant city. This is the time when people party hard and have lots of fun. Several parties take place before, during and after the main event all day and all night. The Rio Carnival lets your true heart come out and have the experience of a lifetime.
Going to Rio
However, coming to the Carnival means you need much preparation. Secure your flight and accommodation in advance. Also, get the Carnival tickets as early as possible. Go online and check the 2009 Rio Carnival event calendar and choose the ones you want to attend.