RIO and CARNIVAL. What a delicious combination! Rio is not known as the ‘Marvelous City’ without good reason. From the Tijuca Rainforest to the Atlantic Ocean and the Carioca Mountain Range, the city is blessed with unmatched natural surroundings while the residents represent a potpourri of cultures as well. Its cultural diversity can be best experienced during the Rio Carnival, a time of feasting when work in Brazil comes to a standstill and the turns into one big party zone. The Carnival lasts for a week leading up to Ash Wednesday although the celebrations start as early as December.
The Rio Carnival attracts people from all over the world who desire to experience Brazilian culture at its best. All eyes are focused on the Sambodromo, a magnificent structure in the heart of Rio de Janeiro that serves as the competition ground for the samba parade where the top samba schools from Rio put up the greatest spectacle on the planet in a quest to become champions of the samba, a much revered title that every samba schools aspires for. The Sambodromo was built in 1984 in a record 110 days. Designed by Oscar Niemeyer, the pioneer of modern architecture, the stadium has been renovated in time for the 2014 Rio Carnival. This includes five new buildings of luxury suites and four new structures with grandstand seating, open boxes, and other smaller luxury suites, which are the new Sectors 2, 3, 4, and 8 of the New Rio Carnival Sambodromo. Beginning Carnival Friday,2 8 March 2014 all roads will lead to the Sambodromo that will now accommodate up to 80,000 spectators.
The locals are proud supporters of samba schools like Mangueira, Portela, Mocidade, Beija Flor, Unidos da Tijuca, and the others who transform the Sambodromo into a cauldron of electrifying entertainment in their creative carnival costumes, elaborately decorated floats and bevy of samba dancers that gyrate to the rhythms of the samba drummers. The schools are judged by a panel of 40 judges who award points for various aspects of the parade. The results are declared on Ash Wednesday, an emotionally exhausting day for the samba schools that put in a year’s worth of hard work to prove their mettle as king and queens of the samba. If you desire to be at the center of all the action at the Rio Carnival then make sure to book your carnival tickets now. The most inexpensive options are the grandstand seats, followed by the open boxes or frisas and the luxury suites. Allocated chairs at the very end of the parade are a very good option for those who want to secure their seats at a very low price.
Carnival fever spills over from the Sambodromo out onto the streets, where blocos and bandas or street parties are held all over Rio de Janeiro. Among the most extravagant events are the Magic Ball at the Copacabana Palace Hotel and the Gay Costume Ball at the Scala Rio nightclub, which is now in downtown Rio. The Scala holds a series of Carnival balls on all five days of the Carnival. Tickets these events need to be booked as early as possible. The Magic Ball is attended by celebrities and well known personalities from around the globe. To enjoy the true spirit of the Carnival, carioca style, you ought to join the street parties where you don’t even need a ticket or an excuse to join thousands of revelers that join in the street parades. Banda de Ipanema is one of the famous street parades that take place during the Rio Carnival, which ought to be on your agenda.
The Carnival is celebrated all across Brazil, with other cities like Sao Paulo, Recife and Olinda, Bahia, and Florianopolis, partying as hard as the cariocas in Rio do. The Anhembi Sambodromo in Sao Paulo is smaller than the Rio Sambodromo but as huge when it comes to entertainment provided by samba schools like Vai Vai and Unidos do Peruche. Another popular gay-friendly destination is Florianopolis, which hosts the Pop Gay Festival, one of the biggest events at Tancredo Neves Square. The Carnival fever is contagious and it won’t take you long before it casts its magic spell over you.