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Rio Carnival

Carnival in Rio is Brazil’s largest celebration and the world’s biggest festival. It draws in people from all over the globe, connected by the unifying beats of the steel bass drums. The Rio Carnival is celebrated five days preceding Ash Wednesday, a significant Catholic tradition which signal the start of Lent. At the heart of the Carnival is the samba, which is the perfect illustration of the Afro-European blend that defines Brazil culture. The top samba schools get the honor of performing in front of millions at the Sambodromo. The exotic nature and sensuality of the samba is only enhanced by the flashy costumes of the participants. But these costumes are not chosen because of aesthetics but rather they form part of the story.

Rio Carnival Preliminary Parades Friday, February 21 & Saturday, February 22

Rio Carnival Main Parades Sunday, February 23 & Monday, February 24

Rio Carnival Champions Parade Saturday, February 29

Highlights
Carnival balls
Carnival balls
The Carnival balls are large events held at certain venues throughout the city. In true Carnival style, the balls are glitzy, outrageous and daring, reimagining the limits of a standard night out and promising an unforgettable party. From masked balls at the glamorous Copacabana Palace to outlandish antics at the Gay Costume Ball, these parties command the most extravagant costumes and the most fun-loving crowds.
Street parties
Street parties
Outside of the Sambódromo, Rio comes to a halt for a week as the city’s streets fill up with dozens of daily parties that are a key feature of Carnival. The parties become a test of stamina and endurance as each day sees more drinking, more dancing and more fun than the last. Street vendors weave in between the sweating bodies selling refreshing frozen vodka tubes and ice-cold cans of beer. Costumes are a must, and while some blocos have special themes, really, any costume goes.
Sambódromo
Sambódromo
The Sambódromo is an open-air venue where the main Carnival events take place. The space is like an enormous, flamboyant runway flanked on either side by stadium seating from which spectators watch the extravagant parades go by. Huge floats with various themes amble along the corridor, surrounded by thousands of visitors on either side, celebrating, dancing and cheering in the stands. The air is full of the heavy beats of steel drums and fast-paced samba rhythms, which are met with a flurry of legs from the smiling, bedazzled samba dancers.

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