Destination: Rio De Janeiro – Carnival

When you think Carnival, you automatically think – Rio de Janeiro! It’s the most popular Carnival in the world. This past Carnival was estimated to attract 850,000 tourists (250,000 being foreign tourists).  I’ve been traveling to Rio for the past 7 years during Carnival and have taken thousands of American tourists to experience one of the World’s Greatest Events.

I just attended Carnival in Rio 2012. Below is a rough survival guide of can’t miss events you must experience if you travel to Rio de Janeiro for Carnival in 2013.

1. Check out the Greatest Show on Earth  – The Rio Samba Parade is the main attraction. It is the event where the city’s numerous Samba schools vie for the position of Grand Champion. Each Samba school practices their routine for months before the competition and during the parade they are judged on their performance, in a number of categories. Performances are made up of dancers, singers, a percussion group and other performers. The Samba Parade takes place on the nights of the Saturday for the schools that did not make the competition, but the actual competition is on Sunday & Monday at the Sambadrome. Tickets will range from $200 – $5000 depending on where you sit. I recommend the bleacher sections 5 or 7, but if you do not want the hassle of trying to find a seat, Section 9 (only section with numbered seats) is recommended. If you want to go all out and sit on the ground floor, frisas are the way to go, but the ticket prices are $1000.00 and up.

2. Party in the Streets! – Rio Street Bands, Blocos de Carnaval, “Blocos de Rua” or simply “blocos” – ( pronounced blo´ku in Portuguese) are some of the names given to “free for all” popular groups of revelers & party animals in Rio de Janeiro.  Brazil´s street parties have been revitalized, and today most of the young, beautiful and lively Cariocas remain in Rio and take part in some of the 300 “Blocos de Rua”. Blocos can be formed by small or large groups of revelers with a distinct title with an often funny pun. (Os blocos RJ, para os solteiros, são um lugar para conhecer e até beijar pessoas, or “The blocos in Rio de Janeiro, for the singles, are places to meet and even kiss people.”) They may also note their neighborhood or social status. Before the show, they gather in a square, then parade in sections of the city, often near the beach. Some blocos never leave one street and have a particular place, such as a bar, to attract viewers.  The street parties I recommend are Cordao de Bola Preta, Banda de Ipanema, Monobloco, Simpatia e Quase Amor & Afroreggae.


3. Attend the Rio Music Conference – Electronic music has taken Brazil by storm. For the past two years, the Rio Music Conference has been on the same dates as Carnival. This year the conferences main attractions were Armin Van Buren, Chuckie, Roger Sanchez, Steve Angelo, & Kaskade.


4. Don’t miss one of the Carnival Balls – Carnival Balls are themed parties that take place every night during Carnival. A true Carnival Ball features live Samba music. Tickets to these balls range from $US 40 to $US 200 for the normal balls and over US$ 2,000 for the upscale ones. The best nights are Friday, Saturday and Tuesday. It is definitely important to choose the correct Ball as there is a huge variety that include Gala Balls and Balls for Singles and Gays. I would try to stay away from the Scala Balls as they are more geared towards budget tourists. The ones I recommend are the Devassa Ball and Magic Ball at the Copacabana Palace (If you can afford it, go to this one, but tickets start at US$1000.00.).

About the Author:

Santiago Mejia has been in the travel business for over 8 years. He is the co-founder of Jet Set Republic, a group travel company that creates unforgettable vacations for young professionals. Jet Set Republic will have a Rio Carnival 2013 Trip that includes most of the above events. If you are looking to travel to Rio for Carnival with a cool group and have a no-hassle experience choose Jet Set Republic. Prices for Carnival 2013 will be available in June, but the company is already taking initial deposits.

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