Gay New Year’s Eve

New Years Eve is one of the biggest celebrations in Rio. It seems like half the planet is standing on the shores of Copacabana beach to ring in the New Year. Even the water is filled with cruise ships watching the display.

What better place to celebrate New Years than Rio de Janeiro! Experience the unmatched beauty and charm of this famous city, as well as its friendly, captivating people, known as Cariocas. Located between the mountains and sea, Rio de Janeiro is a tropical urban resort that offers delicious cuisine, terrific shopping, and stunning scenery.

Reveillon by the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon

Relaxing Before the Fireworks

Do not plan on doing anything too tiring the day of the fireworks. Head to the local newsstand and pick up a copy of Sui Genre, Rio’s gay and lesbian magazine. Next, grab a beach towel, some sunscreen and spend the morning at Farme Gay just east of Farme de Amoedo, in Ipanema Beach, the local gay beach. The Cariocas call the muscle-bound gay men that strut their stuff up and down the beach Barbies and this beach area “Barbie Land”. The magazine will tell you of all the events happening for New Years Eve. Eat some lunch at one of the many snack stands surrounding the beach or run across the street to Farme de Amoedo and enjoy dining at Cafeina or Colher de Pau.

Getting Ready For the Evening

It is tradition to wear white to the New Years Eve Festivities as it is said to bring good luck for the New Year. Colors can be added to break up the monotony of the white.  Choose red if you are seeking romance, green for good health throughout the year or yellow if you wish to be successful in business. If you forgot to bring white clothes with you a quick shopping trip is in order. Try not to spend a lot of money as it is most likely your outfit will get doused with champagne, seawater and sand. Rua Visconde de Piraja in Ipanema has some of the best shopping in the area. For men’s clothing try Armadillo, Comtemporaneo (lesbians will also find clothing here), Elle Et Lui (good for lesbians too) and Aviator. If you want to look for a real bargain visit one of the department stores or malls such as Forum de Ipanema or Ipanema 2000 on Rua Visconde de Piraja. In the Copacabana area Shopping Cassino Atlantico mall is located on Av. Atlantica. You will also want a sturdy pair of shoes. Sandals and flip-flops can be treacherous as broken glass fills the street and beach as the evening wears on.

Traditions

A lot of people bring flowers, and throw them in the sea before midnight. This is an offering to Yemanja, the deity of the seas. Some people prefer to give her beauty kits, complete with facial powder, lipstick, soap… They are available for sale at Candomble shops and come in a small wooden boat painted white and baby blue. This is more of a party to thank than to ask for blessings.

Bring a bottle of champagne to pop at midnight. Some people shake the bottle and spray some champagne around. Don’t be a grouch, nobody will complain – it’s considered good luck. A cheaper bubbling alternative is cider, and you are at the risk of going back to your hotel feeling like an apple orchard.

Zona Sul and Cosa Nostra on Rua Visconde de Piraja in Ipanema will carry champagne you can also try the liquor store Lidador on Rua Vinicius de Moraes. In the Copacabana area do stop in at Pão de Açúcar or Zona Sul on Av. Nossa Senhora de Copacabana just a few blocks from the beach. To appease the sea goddess Yemanja, you can pick up a bouquet of flowers at Florisbela on Rua de Visconde de Piraja.

Before the Fireworks

Begin your evening of revelry by enjoying one of the many specialty New Years Eve menus that are being prepared at the local restaurants. For the ultimate in sophistication and elegance make reservations at the Copacabana Palace Hotel restaurant, The Cipriani Restaurant, but be prepared to shell out big bucks. Book ahead as the capacity is limited.

You can enjoy a delicious dinner before the party at any of the restaurants along the way if you are coming from Ipanema or Leblon. Even in Copacabana, restaurants usually keep a special New Years menu with a fixed price that may be affordable. Prices will skyrocket if you choose a restaurant with a view to the beach.

After dinner visit the Rainbow Kiosk just out in front of the hotel run by two very colorful transvestites Xanda and Rubirosa. Next head to the water’s edge and cast your flowers while you ask for good luck in the year ahead. There is no “gay” area to gather to watch the fireworks. Up to 2 million people show up yearly for this event and Cariocas take great pride in joining together to ring in the new year. You will see senior citizens standing next to young transvestites and gay couples holding hands surrounded by families.

At 8:00 pm stages set along the beach come alive with all kinds of music from jazz to old time Carnival songs. A light show is displayed on the gigantic Ferris Wheel near Forte de Copacabana.  Fireworks go off at midnight over the water and last about 15-20 minutes.

As celebrations revolve around Copacabana and traffic can be very slow, plan your after-hours at some club in a walking distance. Some of them will give you plastic bracelets so that you can watch the fireworks and come back. Tickets may include drinks or other benefits. Breakfast is also served since very early at better hotels, and in addition to the traditional fare, prices may include a last flute of champagne if you’re still in the mood.

Fireworks

In the years of 2008 and 2009 yet a new attraction was added. A giant Ferris Wheel was installed at Forte de Copacabana, and with digital effects and images of Rio this is where the countdown happened. The parties with DJ’s along Ipanema Beach, on the other hand, have been canceled for good. Despite their growing popularity, or rather, because of it, the number of revelers became simply to big for the narrow beach strip.

Reveillon by the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon

After the Fireworks

As soon as the fireworks are over you can walk to one of the local gay clubs and continue to party. Do not plan on visiting a nightclub far away on this night, as traffic is almost unbearable getting out of the area. Shoe leather is your best mode of transportation for a few hours after the fireworks. In Copacabana Rua Raul Pompeia has La Girl for lesbians and Le Boy for gays. The Copacabana area also has Fosfobox on Rua Sigueira Campos and La Cueva on Rua Miguel Lemos. Lesbians are welcome at most of the gay clubs. In Ipanema try Dama de Ferro on Rua Vinicius de Morais or Galeria Café on Rua Teixeira de Mello.

Many restaurants along Rua Atlantica will offer a special early breakfast buffet for revelers who have yet to go to bed. Many serve champagne for those who need to revive with a bit of “hair of the dog”. The Copacabana Palace Hotel has the best breakfast buffet or try the Golden Tulip if you are on a budget.

You still have another interesting option: the Week International, the top gay nightclub in Rio de Janeiro, organizes an annual gay New Year’s Eve party even.

Rio de Janeiro has always been a favorite destination for gays from Brazil, and in 2009, the city was elected the best gay destination in the World.