Everybody knows about the world-famous Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, but does everybody understand how it really works and where things are happening? Well here is how:
A word of history: Carnival is an ancient pagan feast that can be traced back to 4000 AD. Revived in Italy, it spread around the world and Brazil was no exception.
Carnival means: “goodbye to the flesh” and is the last festivity before the beginning of the 40-day Quaresma or Lent: 40 days without eating meat!
And of course, Brazil was able to turn this farewell happening into the biggest show on earth.
The carnival is commemorated all over Brazil, and though other cities like Salvador or Olinda, host important carnivals, being mainly spontaneous gathering of people in the streets, contrary to these places, Rio exhibits a a big spectacle being televised worldwide.
And even though the street carnival or blocks in Rio are once again becoming just like the popular festival it once used to be, gathering UP TO tens of thousands of people in Copacabana and Ipanema, the main spectacle remains the carnival parade taking place in a specially constructed open air stadium, called the Sambodromo or Sambadrome, at about 15 km from Copacabana and Ipanema, in downtown Rio de Janeiro.
The Carnival parades always start on the Saturday before Mardi Gras and officially ends on the Saturday after Mardi Gras. For 2019 this means from 02nd of March through 5th of March. The different participants, or Samba Schools, are organized in much the same way as soccer divisions: first comes the second division with the secondary groups (grupos de acesso). They will parade on the Saturday before Mardi Gras. Then comes the first division with the special groups or Grupos Especiais and they will parade on Sunday and Monday before Mardi Gras. On Mardi Gras, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday there are no parades. Every year the loser of the first division
will make place for the winner of the second division, and finally, Saturday after Mardi Gras, the 6 winning schools will have their final showdown during the Champions parade.
Every day there are around 6 schools parading and every each of them takes around 1h30 to cover the 700 meter long Parading avenue of the Sambadrome. The parade starts around 20h00 and finishes in the early hours around 06h00.
Sambadrome seating and tickets
The Sambadrome is divided in sectors. Each sector has a grand stand with free seating (concrete steps in fact), front boxes on the parade level (A,B,C and D) and finally covered suites or lounges. We recommend sectors 4 to 9, which offer the best views and generally sector 9 is used for the foreign visitors who wish numbered (concrete) seats.
Carnival tickets, as the rest during the carnival period, are not cheap. The good sectors/seats are expensive and the pricing works a little bit like the stock exchange market: the more demand the higher the prices and vice versa. This means that prices can change on a daily basis and the sooner you book the more chance you have to get good seats. It is not uncommon to have total sell out.
Lodging during Carnival
As throughout most of Brazil during the Carnival period, hotels in Rio de Janeiro apply a mandatory 4- or 5-night carnival package. These package are expensive and although some prices seem (and are effectively) absurd, all hotels during this period tend to be sold out completely. The packages are generally applied from Friday (01/03) before Mardi Gras until Wednesday after Mardi Gras (06/03). Some hotels offer discounts if you book a very long time in advance. Reservations are only made after 100% payment, and once the bill has been settled there will be NO REFUND!
Champions Parade, a cheap(er) alternative:
There is, though, a way around these expensive packages without missing the Carnival completely: The Champions Parade. This parade held on Saturday after Mardi Gras (9th of March for 2018) is nothing more than the 6 winning schools from the Special groups and the winning school from the secondary groups parading one last time. Most hotels don’t apply any special rates for this period. Those who do, apply a mandatory 2 night package, but at rates far below the expensive main carnival packages.
Parade and participate personally:
And of course you can also participate in the carnival and parade in the Sabadrome with the school of your choice.
The fees therefore start around 100 US per person and are limitless with the most famous positions generally occupied by personalities or socialites.
Needless to say that such an event is a perfect occasion for an incentive group in the sign of carnival. Plenty opportunities and possibilities there.
Contrary to the popular believe, the carnival period in Rio de Janeiro is not a moment of erupting violence. People are rather relaxed and just want to have a good time: at which Brazilians are especially very good. Off course whenever you have big gathering of crowds it is important to be aware of your surroundings. The access
tickets we sell to the Carnival parade at the Sambadrome are all with transportation and guide included and therefore within the Sambadrome your passenger’s safety is assured.
Carnival is a once in a lifetime experience that everyone should witness, like it or not, it will never again leave you! Get to try this once-in-a-lifetime event using the services of an expert: