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Experience the Amazing Rio Carnival

The Magic of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro

The Magic of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro

From the beautiful and sexy beaches of Rio de Janeiro to Rio Carnival and the Rio Nightlife, the type of energy that the city of Rio emulates is just simply electrifying. What is even more exhilarating are the deliciously bronzed samba dancers, the pulsating music, the energy and applause of the spectators filled with Cariocas and visitors from around the world who call come to the same place to experience the world famous Rio Carnival.

Held every year during the week leading up to Lent, Rio Carnival attracts visitors from all corners the globe. It is inconceivable to think of Rio without thinking of its unrivaled Carnival. Anticipation builds and the excitement grows as Carnival time gets closer and closer. Without a doubt, this is the favorite holiday celebration in Rio.

The city glows with the smiles and energy of the locals or Cariocas. Samba music can be heard coming from neighborhoods throughout the city and crowds gather to dance and play all day, night and straight into the next morning. It is the inherent spirit of the Cariocas and their true joie de vivre that makes Rio Carnival such a glorious success year after year!

2022 Rio Carnival Guide and Program

Here you will learn all about the events of Rio Carnival 2022: the glorious Sambadrome Parades, with Rio de Janeiro's 12 most elite samba schools making up the Special Group parading at the main two parades on Carnivals Sunday and Monday, February 27th and 28th -- the other 15 samba schools that make up the Access Group parade down the Samba runway on Friday and Saturday, February 25th and 26th in a fierce competition for a spot among the Special Group in the following year's Rio Carnival.

Explore the stage of Rio Carnival, the Sambadrome, its sectors and purchase tickets for the big show. Find an entire section about costumes that can be used to assist those who want to take part in the biggest party on the planet and parade with a real samba school. You will also find useful information on how to secure hotel accommodations, book tickets to the parade and directions on how to get to sambadrome using the safe subway system. Still have questions? Contact our Rio Carnival Helpdesk!

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The World Is Watching

While preparations continue for the Carnival all year round, technical rehearsals by the samba schools are held at the Sambadrome for a few weeks before the big weekend of competition. This is the prelude to the most extravagant, beautiful, and sexy spectacle, which the whole world waits for with baited breath. For every Carioca, this is a sign that their much awaited four-day holiday is around the corner.

The Carnival is watched on television sets all over the world. The energy and spirit of the celebration transcend the one-dimensional view from the TV to captivate each viewer and draw him or her into the excitement and ecstasy of the festival.

Rio Carnival Floats

The Party Never Stops

All else comes to a halt on the four days of the Carnival, with the exception of samba, women, beer, and partying all night long. Once the Sambadrome empties, the parties continue at every street corner all over the city. Throughout the neighborhoods of Rio Cariocas celebrate the arrival of the Carnival.

People dance along the streets singing the songs of the Samba. Everyone comes together in friendship and fun to enjoy the balls, street parades and the excitement of the Sambadrome. Cariocas make no distinction between locals and foreigners, who are most welcome to participate in the event. In fact, visitors can grab a place on the samba strip as a participant with one of the samba schools. All you need is to buy one of the school specific costumes.

How it all started

There are many theories as to the origin of the Carnival with stories of it being a pagan celebration in ancient Rome. Carnival balls became popular in Rio in the nineteenth century with legendary balls held at the Copacabana Palace Hotel and the Municipal Theater. The inevitable influence of Afro-Brazilian culture in the form of the samba heralded the beginning of the Samba Parade in the 1930s.

It is the ethnic melting pot of Rio that makes this festival unlike any in the world. The combination of the cultural diversity and Brazilian swing rhythm is what makes the Carnival in Rio so unique.

Porta Bandeira – The Crowd Favorite

Women are at the head of the parade of each samba school. They have the job of conquering not only the spectators’ hearts, which is not too difficult, but those of the judges too. The Porta Bandeira, the flag bearer of the samba school, in an intricate sequin and feather costume is the first to enter the samba strip as the crowds stand and cheer as she passes by performing the most elaborate samba steps.

Porta Bandeira

Accompanying the Porta Bandeira is her protector the Mestre Sala. Inspired by the nobility of the eighteenth century, the couple is adorned with very elaborate costumes. His job is to guide and watch over her as she dances along the parade route. Originally, he would guard her armed with a knife so other Samba schools could not distract her and cause her to lose points.

The Porta Bandeira must dance and interact with the Mestre Sala as well as the audience. She cannot allow the flag she carries to touch her body or wind around the flagpole. To do so would result in a loss of points for her troupe.

Then come the floats with beautiful women sensually dancing the samba in the tiniest of costumes, accompanied on either side of the floats by ‘alas’ or sections of the samba school. Each section has a different type of costume, all of them breathtaking to say the least.

Four Nights of Competition

Each samba school has 70 minutes to parade down the strip at the Sambadrome. The Rio Carnival kicks off with the opening ceremony on Friday where King Momo is crowned by Rio’s mayor. In the evening the first day of the samba school parades sets the tone for the next four days of revelry combined with an intense show of dance, theater, arts and music.

On Friday and Saturday, members of the Access Group strut their stuff in the hopes of joining the major league players. Sunday and Monday are reserved for the best samba schools vying for the championship spot where six of the finest march on the following Saturday.

Mangueira Float at the Rio Carnival

Glorious Themes and Samba Schools

The schools of samba are a musical genre symbolizing Brazil. At the Sambadrome each school plays out its own story with a common theme ranging from politics to arts and sports. What everyone looks forward to apart from the dancers is each team’s unique song, creative costumes, and choreography.

Each Samba School tries to be more creative than its competitor. From levitation to a flying astronaut, the Sambadrome is always full of surprises. And each year the schools seem more and more creative as rich imagination give way to show stopping flights of fancy.

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