Posted by: Thomas | April 1, 2010

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro

In the month of February 2010 I went back to one of the most spectacular cities on the planet, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil to be part of the greatest party on Earth, Carnival. This time I spent 10 amazing and wonderful days in incredible Rio during the carnival days together with millions of other people. The entire city is shut down for the whole week and everyone is outside dancing to the rhythm of samba on the streets of Rio – non-stop, 24/7. Incredible and unbelievable. And the weather was fantastic, about 100 degrees every day. The stores and shops are closed and people of Rio are enjoying the time of their life. In Bahia, northern part of Brasil, the carnival is about one month and the whole area is closed during that time.

All the streets of Rio are extremely busy and full of people and you cannot go around and take another path to pass through. The entire city is full of millions of people celebrating and to go through you must go through thousands of people. Of course, one must be very careful with the belongings. I personally, as most of the people, had almost nothing on me. Just a swim shorts, flip-flops and a few dollars on me. This way, I did not worry that someone will try to take money or something from me. Well, one lady tried actually, but she wasn’t so successful.

Basically, you spend the entire day on the beach dancing, eating and just relaxing. Since this is the busiest season of the year for Rio there is no space on the beach. Even though both Ipanema and Copacabana beaches are a few miles long each I had to stand up to get some sun tan. It was packed. Then after the beach, we joined hundreds of thousands of people on the streets to dance, eat, drink, parade and just enjoy the music and the rhythm of samba. Then around midnight you go home to change the clothes and immediately go out to clubs, which hosted very big special carnival parties. You stay at the club till about 6-7am dancing and enjoying the great atmosphere; then you go and eat something afterwards, the sun is already out, then you go home to change to the beachwear and go straight to the beach around 8am again. No sleep whatsoever.

On the beach itself you sleep about an hour or two, and then you start all over again the carnival celebration. I had blast during those 10 days. The people are happy, friendly, dancing, living their life, enjoying the moment, pretending that they are kings and queens for that night and just simply having fun. The words in any language cannot describe the great atmosphere, the feeling and just how happy people are. Brasil knows how to party. Since I only had an hour of sleep each day, I had to catch up with my sleep when I got back home to New York.

Rio Carnival has become world-famous through the Samba Parade, which is an amazing show, display of fabulous costumes and competition of the Rio samba schools. Even though the carnival in Rio spans over 2 weeks the four major days are Carnival Friday through Fat Tuesday. The biggest event is on Sunday and Monday when major and the best Samba Schools are parading through Sambodromo. Many celebrities like Tom Cruz attend carnival in Rio, and this year celebrities like Madonna, Beyonce, Alicia Keys and Paris Hilton where there. Samba Parade starts at 9pm and finishes at 6am each night. Each night about 6 different schools parade and each school has exactly 80 minutes to show off their fabulous costumes, amazing choreography, and huge carnival floats and to impress the judges. Each school has about 20 big floats and about 5,000 participants in different costumes. So each night about 30,000 participants parade through Sambadromo. Spectacular.

Sambadromo is the area where the Samba Parade takes place and it was built only for that particular purpose; for the samba parade that takes place only once a year for four nights. About 70,000 people attend samba parade festivities each night. It is definitely worth the money. I had one of the good seats in the middle of the Samodromo, just across the VIP lounge where Madonna was. My ticket was about US$500; however there are other cheaper tickets as well as more expensive tickets like up to US$10,000. If you ever go to Rio for Carnival please try not to miss the Samba Parade and if you cannot attend during the major days of whatever reason, at least go on some other day and the tickets are significantly cheaper albeit less grand.

This was definitely an experience for life and I have seen nothing like it. Although I have been places and seen a lot of different festivities, this one is far the best, the greatest and the grandest celebration on Earth. From now on I am going every year. Next year the carnival is at the beginning of March 2011, so I hope to see you there.



  1. Wow it sounds amazing. I shall be at this years Carnival also, glad to hear that it is definately worth while.

    I had this option on the trip to be a part of the actualy Sambadromo and Parade with one of the schools, the cost is approx 700 AUD, do u think it is worthwhile, or can u absorb it all in as an audience member? any reply would be great thanks Bec.

    • Yes, it is definitely worth it. I am planning to go this year as well. I definitely had so much fun as an audience member, but if you have a chance to participate then you’ll have the double fun. However, I would probably do both, be participant and an audience member some another night. Anyway, have fun and enjoy the best party on Earth.

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