The 2013 Rio Carnival Free Guide

Popularly known as Greatest Show on Earth, the Rio Carnival is the most celebrated event of the Brazil Carnival. It is the event to catch with sensational parades, hip-twitching music, enticing dancers, over-the-top costumes and parties galore. At the centre of the Rio Carnival is the grand Samba Parade when twelve of the most talented Samba Schools vie for honor of Champion of the Samba Parade. Each school chooses a theme and creates an eighty-minute performance surrounding it.

Everything is produced from scratch – the infectious music, the incomparable Samba choreography and the dazzling (bordering on unbelievable) costumes. The parades take place in the great Sambodromo, a concrete structure constructed specifically for the Carnival. Consisting of an avenue with stands on either side, it is divided into sectors and within each sector are different types of tickets. From the VIP tickets which to the grandstand free seating options, the Rio Carnival 2013 is accessible to all.

The Rio Carnival offers some of the most dazzling bashes ever known. The most luxurious is the Magic Ball which attracts a number of local and international celebrities. The Scala Night club in Rio hosts six thematic balls throughout the festival which are also hugely popular. Plus there are invigorating and inimitable street parties, parades in the street, free of cost to anyone who wants to have a good time with the locals or cariocas. The Rio Carnival has even more to offer. Take a tour around the city and see the different communities. Stop by the beautiful beaches and experience local culture. Attend the children’s Samba parade where a multitude of local children flock to the Sambodromo and strut their stuff in front of the exuberant fans. Finally find out why Rio is known as the most gay-tolerant city in the world. Join the all the alternative lifestyle folks - gays, lesbians, cross dressers, transvestites and others as they celebrate with unparalleled gusto. No doubt, they probably add the most pizzazz to this incomparable extravaganza!

The Rio Carnival is the pivotal attraction of the grand Brazil Carnival. Held in the enchanting city of Rio de Janeiro, the carnival is known all over the world as ‘the greatest show on earth!’ Considered by many as one of the must-see events of all time, it commences on February 08th 2013 and culminates in the early hours of February 13nd, Ash Wednesday. It is a colorful, exotic, magnificent frenzy of a celebration filled with music, dance, stupendous performances and outlandish costumes.

Experience the Flair and Flamboyance of the Rio Samba Parades

The Rio Carnival is most known for its glorious Samba Parades. Held every year in the Sambodromo, it is the focal point of the carnival and tickets are hard to get. There are four Samba Parades, held on all four nights of the carnival. The two big performances are on Carnival Sunday and Monday when the premier Samba Schools of the city compete against each other for the title of Champion. It is a stupendous show full of outstanding choreography, dazzling and sexy costumes, irresistible music and unimaginable props and floats.

Join the Frenzy in the Thunderous Sambodromo

The Rio Carnival was historically held on the streets of Rio but as it gained popularity, it moved to the Sambodromo. The Sambodromo is a concrete structure with a wide avenue running through the center and viewing stands on either side. The Samba Schools enter from one end of the avenue and spend 70 minutes parading down the avenue while the crowds go wild up in the stands. There are variety of seating and ticket options ranging from comfortably affordable to ultra-expensive.

Be prepared to be stunned by the dazzling and glittering costumes

When one thinks of the Rio Carnival, the first thing that springs to mind is the exotic and outlandish costumes. Some of them dazzling and intricate while others sexy and minimal, the costumes can be considered an event by themselves. Costumes are not just restricted to the samba parades and the samba schools. Everyone from the street dancers to the ball ticket holders, like to get in costume.

Marvel at the Talent of the Stupendous Samba Schools

The Rio Carnival traditionally took shape with the Samba Schools parade competition. Samba Schools are dance groups belonging to different communities in Rio de Janeiro and are completely self-contained in every way. They have their own dancers, musicians and choreographers. They create their own performances from scratch, the costumes, the floats, the music and the dance routines. It is their vision and creativity that brings to the Rio Carnival an exuberance rarely seen in any other event on the planet.

Carnival Tickets

Most events in the Rio Carnival are ticketed so if you want to experience the magic in its entirety, you need to get your tickets well in advance. Tickets for the Samba Parades in the Sambodromo range in price and seating options. Tickets are also available for the glamorous and enchanting carnival balls. Some are hard to get while others are usually readily available. Apart from this you can book costumes in advance and actually participate in the parade for a truly incomparable carnival experience.

For last minute tickets to the parade, balls and/or tours and accommodation packages, contact our Carnival Help Desk by email or Visit us at our Help Desk located at the Hotel Atlantico Copacabana, in Copacabana.

Get a taste of glitz and glamour with the Rio Carnival Balls

The carnival in Rio de Janeiro is one big frenzied party. The festivities last for four nights with the hysteria reaching new heights as each night leads on to the next. A significant component of the carnival is the balls. The most prestigious and glamorous is the Magic Ball at the Copacabana Palace. It is also the most expensive one and attracts celebrities from all over the world. The Scala nightclub in downtown Rio sets the stage for a thematic carnival ball every night and hosts the grand finale of the carousing with the hilarious Gay Costume Ball. Apart from this, there are street parties taking place at every corner of the city so wherever you go, the hip twitching samba beats and rib tickling samba dance is always around.

Party like the locals do with the incomparable Street Parties

To truly experience the local flavor of the Carnival, enjoy it like how the cariocas do, right in the streets of Rio de Janeiro. The street parties don’t require any tickets and everyone who wants to have a fantastic time can join in on the fun. It usually begins at a pre-defined spot like a bar or a square. Soon a well-known street band begins to play and the parade marches through the streets. The Banda de Ipanema is one of the most well- known street parties, a particular favorite with the gay celebrants. For a ‘U’ rated party, you can check out the Simpatia é Quase Amor street party.

Enjoy the Happiest City on Earth with Scintillating Tours Around Rio

When you visit Rio de Janeiro, you have the opportunity to see some of the most beautiful sites in the world. Starting with the magnificent Christ the Redeemer statue, a virtual symbol of Rio, your tour will take all over the city allowing you to take in the sights, sounds and experiences of tropical rainforests, bustling city life, glorious waterfalls and pristine beaches.

Find out how there’s something for everyone

The Rio Carnival has something for everyone, from families to couples, to group travelers to alternative lifestyle communities. Children can participate in the street parties and particularly enjoy the first Samba Parade where youngsters, hopeful of becoming Samba professionals strut their stuff in the Children’s Parade.

Rio is also known as the most gay friendly city in the world. Gays, lesbians, transvestites and drag queens are at their flamboyant best as they bring their own charm and flavor to this captivating event. Some street parties are particularly catered to gays and the grand finale of the Carnival is the Gay Costume Ball at the Scala.

Relax on the Sun Kissed Beaches of Rio

Rio has some of the most legendary beaches in the world. With mountains bordering some and tropical rainforests and waterfalls adjoining others, the views are beyond spectacular. Whether you prefer to lounge in the sun with the string bikinied Brazilian beauties or play soccer on the sand with the locals, or enjoy building sand castles with your children, the beaches of Rio have something for everyone.

The Rio Carnival is a potpourri of music, dance, festivities, hysteria, culture and beauty. It is an experience that will last a lifetime and if you do get the chance to witness its mania, it is an opportunity you wouldn’t want to miss.

The Carnival is Everywhere

The Rio Carnival is everywhere, in every street and every neighborhood. Wherever you are you will find parades, dancers, musicians and hordes of partygoers all joining in the incessant merrymaking. Copacabana with its stunning crescent shape beach reaches a frenzied state with Samba Rehearsals, balls and not stop beach parties. Ipanema adds pizzazz to the stupendous Brazil Carnival with its world famous Banda de Ipanema. The Rio City Center downtown is a hub of activity and the Rio Scala and its phenomenal Balls shifting here. Leblon, the more up-market area of Rio has a combination of excellent beaches and spinning night life. Flamengo is another hotspot where you can catch the scintillating street party “Estica do Flamengo”. Botafogo is the home of the hilarious Barbas block party which has a water truck to hose down hysterical followers. Nights in Lapa are the essence of Brazil Carnival life with alcohol stalls, delicious barbecue and other mouthwatering treats. Santa -Teresa and Jardim Botânico also have excellent block parties to add to the Carnival insanity.

The Gorgeous Beaches of Rio

The Copacabana beach will be the first image that pops to mind when you think of Rio. Its beautiful pristine sands are always packed with sun-bathers in string bikinis. The beach in Leblon is more relaxed with children and families. Another family beach is Leme in Rio de Janeiro which gets transformed every evening into a soccer field. The beaches at Barra, Recreio and Prainha are all particularly picturesque as they are surrounded by mountains and national parks. They also have excellent waves and attract surfers all year round. Angra- dos-Reis is beautiful sea side town with gorgeous waterfalls and beautiful tropical jungles. Arpoador beach is known for its captivating sunset views and excellent surfing waves.

Experience Brazil with your Friends

Excellent deals, bargains and a host of superb packages await you if you choose to attend the Brazil Carnival in a group. Plus when you choose us, the experts in group travel for the Brazil Carnival, you will get the best tour package available perfectly tailor-made to suit the needs of your group. Our 24/7 customer service agents are available to provide whatever you need to make this holiday your most memorable one.

History of the Rio Carnival

A few hundred years ago, pre-Lent Carnivals were first introduced in Italy. Lent is a 40 day period of abstinence practiced by Catholics in which they desist from consuming meat, alcohol and other worldly pleasures. The term Carnival comes from Carne Vale meaning - Goodbye to meat. The carnival of Italy was a large costumed festival and soon spread to France, Spain and other European countries. As Europe extended its reach over the Americas, the Carnival Culture went with it. The tradition came to Brazil with Portugal and the Brazil Carnival was born.

Traditional African Vibes

The Carnival in Brazil is not entirely influenced by Europe. When Brazil became a colony of Portugal, a number of Africans came to the country via prevalent slave trade practices. A large portion of the Carnival traditions come from the African tribe practices. For example, ancient African customs include parading and circling the villages to ward off evil spirits and cleanse any negative air. It was also common to create masks and costumes out of stones, bones, grasses and other natural elements. Using feathers was popular as they symbolized the rise and rebirth of spirits. All these have become major components of today’s Brazil Carnival.

Samba Comes to Brazil

The Samba dance and music which is symbolic of the Carnival in Brazil is not indigenous to Brazil. It has its roots in West Africa and Angola and came with slave trading in the 1600s. As slaves mingled with locals, so did the music and the Samba was born. With the termination of slavery, a number recently freed moved to Downtown Rio and took their music with them. They congregated in places like Cidade Nova and Praca Onze and soon, these became centers of Samba music and dance.

The Birth of the Samba Schools

In the 1920’s as the Samba form of music and dance became more popular, dancers and musicians began to gather regularly in school or college grounds to further their art. They soon evolved into formal associations or clubs, perfecting their skill. As they got better, leaders of the community began holding competitions and schools began to compete. In 1932 the first official Parade of Samba Schools took place. As the competitions became more serious and appreciated by crowds, the Association of Schools of Samba City in Rio de Janeiro was created and this entity runs the Samba Parades in the Rio Carnival.

Parading in the Sambodromo

Originally the Carnival in Rio used to take place in one of the oldest streets of Rio. As they became more extravagant, a formal structure was required. The Governor of Rio commissioned the building which was completed in 110 days in time for the 1984 Brazil Carnival. Known popularly as the Sambodromo, it consists of concrete stands built on two sides of a 700 meter avenue along with a food court and waiting areas for participating schools.

Today’s Brazil Carnival is a spectacular event, televised all over the world and attracting millions of visitors every year. The performances are grand and lavish, the parties stupendous and the infrastructure, impeccable. Still it has at its core a number of elements that were born hundreds of years ago in the fields of Africa and streets of Italy.

The Dates of the Brazil Carnival

The Brazil Carnival every year is celebrated on the four days preceding Lent. Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday, is observed by Christians all over the world as a forty day period of fasting and abstinence. It is a time when worldly pleasures like meat, alcohol and chocolates are to be desisted from. It represents the period Jesus spent in the desert suffering terrible hardship.

Significance of the Carnival in Brazil

Today, Lent is a time of religious discipline and communing with God. It culminates in one final week of severe abstinence and ends with the happy celebration of Easter, the day when Christ is said to have risen. The exuberance and celebration associated with the Brazil Carnival can be viewed as the last great party before six long weeks of sacrifice. It is perhaps not quite what the Church had in mind when it was first created but nevertheless, it has evolved into what it is today - a hysterical maniacal event of gargantuan proportions.

So when is Easter?

The Brazil Carnival dates are therefore entirely linked to the Church calendar. Dates are fixed based on the date set by the Church for Easter, Lent and Ash Wednesday. The actual date of Easter is determined by the moon and consequently changes every year. It always falls between March 22nd and April 25th. Historically Easter is supposed to be the first Sunday after the full moon following spring equinox. Since astronomers were unable to predict the exact dates of all the future full moons, the Council of Nicea decided in 325 AD to design a formula that would calculate approximate moon dates. This would allow the church to create a calendar for all the years to come and ambiguity on the subject could be avoided. The formula has remained the same ever since except for a minor change in 1583 AD. The full moon based on Ecclesiastical Tables is called the Paschal moon and usually varies 2 to 3 days from the actual full moon. Irrespective, the date of Easter is set as the first Sunday after the Paschal full moon and the Brazil Carnival get its dates from this formula.

The Brazil Carnival Dates

Since the Carnival takes place on the four days preceding the forty days of Lent, the first date of the festival would be the forty-four days before Easter. Fortunately you will not need to perform this complicated calculation to find out when to book your tickets. The days for the next three festivals starting with the 2013 Rio Carnival are listed below:

The Brazil Carnival Dates
Year From (Friday) To (Ash Wednesday)
2013 February 08, 2013 February 13, 2013
2014 February 28, 2014 March 5, 2014
2015 February 13, 2015 February 18, 2015

Program Guide of the Brazil Carnival 2013

The Carnival in Brazil which officially begins on Friday February 08th 2013 and culminates on Wednesday February 13nd 2013 has a number of events and activities all of which entertaining and thrilling. A holiday during Carnival time needs to be well planned so that visitors make the most of their time, money and don’t miss any of the action.

The Rio Carnival Agenda

The Rio Carnival is recognized as one of the biggest celebrations in the world and the annual Samba parade one of the greatest shows on earth. In 2013, Carnival will officially commence on Friday, February 08 th, with the handing over of the city’s keys by the mayor to the Carnival King Momo.

A number of events take place around Carnival time in Rio. Over 300 street bands from various neighborhoods perform all over the city and are at the heart of the famous Rio street parties, many of which are impromptu. Blocos perform their theme songs and parade in the various neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro. Samba rules the house at the various Carnival Balls, where masked theme nights add to the fun and merry making. Samba schools have rehearsal nights which are open to the public, a great place to dance and sing with the locals.

The highlight of course is the annual Samba parade conducted at the Sambadrome Marques de Sapucai, more commonly called the Sambodromo, where the city’s Samba schools, after months of practice participate in the annual competition. The venue sells over 70,000 tickets every year to locals as well as people from all over the world who come to watch this spectacle.

At the centre of the Brazil Carnival festivities stands the magnificent Rio Carnival held in the wonderful city of Rio de Janeiro. Here you will find action-packed programs, each one more exciting and enthralling than the next.

For last minute tickets to the parade, balls and/or tours and accommodation packages, contact our Carnival Help Desk by email or Visit us at our Help Desk located at the Hotel Atlantico Copacabana, in Copacabana.

Day 1 – Friday, February 8, 2013

13:00 - The carnival kicks off with the traditional opening ceremony. The Mayor of Rio will hand over the keys of the city to the reigning King of the Carnival popularly known as Momo. This is symbolic of the city being handed over to the revelers for the five day long Carnival.

21:00 – The first Samba Parade in the Sambodromo will begin with Rio’s tier two Samba Schools (Access or Gold Group). Nineteen schools will compete and the winner will receive the prestigious honor of entering the top tier Samba Schools or Special group. Tickets for this event are still available and much more affordable.

23:00 – The Bola Preta Ball at the Scala Night Club dedicated to Rio’s most bohemian street bloc, the Bola Preta, will raise the spirits of the evening in Downtown Rio. Well attended by celebrities, this is the first big bash of the Carnival.

Day 2 – Saturday, February 9, 2013

09:30 – Saturday Carnival begins with the Cordão do Bola Preta street party. Roughly translated to the Polka Dot Blocos, this parade plays hip-twitching Samba music and moves with its crowd of ardent followers though Rio’s historic downtown area.

18:00 – The hugely popular Banda de Ipanema will conduct its second block party of the festival. Crowds mostly in attention-grabbing costumes will begin to gather by mid-afternoon at Praça General Osório in Ipanema. At 16:00 the band will begin to play their most popular numbers and the frenzied street carnival parade will begin.

21:00 – Second day of Access Group Samba Parade. Tickets for this event are still available and much more affordable.

23:00 – The sumptuous and glittering Magic Ball at the Copacabana Palace Rio de Janeiro will ensue with its glamorous guest list, first class dining and dazzling costumes.

23:00 - Scala hosts the Mangueira Ball, honoring the famous and traditional Mangueira Samba School

Day 3 – Sunday, February 10, 2013

Throughout the Day – Street parties or Blocos will take place at different locations. One popular bloco is the Simpatia é Quase Amor which will begin at 16:00.

21:00 – The first of the two foremost parades of the carnival, the Special Group parades will occur. Six of the twelve best Samba Schools in Rio will perform in front of 70,000 hysterical fans and millions around the world.

23:00 – The Scala will hold its 4th thematic Ball – the City Ball, dedicated to the city of Rio.

Day 4 – Monday, February 11, 2013.

21:00 - The next six of the twelve top teams will get their chance to wow the crowds and the judges in the great Sambodromo.

23:00 – The hilarious Ball of the Beers - or Baile da BOA - at the Scala will keep all the revelers happy with its unlimited beer theme.

Day 5 – Tuesday, February 12, 2013

18:00 – The Banda de Ipanema will once again hold their electrifying street parade. This will be the last opportunity to catch this hugely popular Rio band for another year.

19:00 – The last Samba Parade, the Children’s Parade will take place in the Sambodromo. In this entertaining event, children belonging to branches of the big Samba schools will perform in the Sambodromo. This is a ticketed event and extremely enjoyable particularly for families.

23:00 – The big finale of the Carnival, the legendary Gay Costume Ball at the Scala will begin. Filled with guest of alternative lifestyle resplendent in their extravagant and sumptuous costumes, this ticketed event is the ball of balls.

The Samba Parades

The Rio Samba Parade is the main attraction of the entire Carnival celebrations. 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 Friday, Saturday and Sunday before the culmination of Carnival at the Sambodromo, an area in downtown Rio that was specifically designed to accommodate this large scale event.

Samba Parade Types

Five different types of samba parades take place at the Sambodromo during carnival and these usually follow the same pattern year after year, beginning with the children’s parade and ending with the winner's parade.

The Special Group

The performances of the Special Group are the highlight of the samba parade at the Sambodromo and this magnificent spectacle is recognized as the main carnival event around the world. Out of the 12 schools in this group, half perform on carnival Sunday and the other on carnival Monday. In 2013 these dates fall on the 10th and 11th of February respectively. Opening ceremonies are at 8 pm and the performances will begin at 9 pm.

The Access Group

This group, also referred to as Gold Group is made up of 19 large samba schools and the winner of this group gains entry into the Special Group the following year. Schools in this group perform on Carnival Friday and Saturday, which falls on Saturday, 08th February and 09th February of this year. The performances begin at 9 pm.

The schools that compete in this group usually do not have access to the financial resources and sponsors that many of the Special group schools do, but most of them are as experienced and proficient.

The Champion’s Parade

After the winner has been announced, the following Saturday – February 16 th in 2013 – showcases the victorious parade, comprising of the schools ranked 1 to 6 in the samba parade of the special group. This parade is not as expensive as the parades of the previous Sunday and Monday.

The Children’s Parade

Most samba schools have a children’s section and they perform as well during carnival, in the same manner as the main groups. In 2013, the children’s parade will commence on Tuesday, February 12 th at 7 pm.

How the samba parade is judged

The participants in the Rio samba parade are judged on 10 categories which are Percussion Band, Samba Song, Harmony, Flow and Spirit, Floats and Props, Costumes, Vanguard Group, The Flag Bearer, Theme of the Year and Overall Impression. The appointed judges are located at various points of the samba runway and allocate points on a scale of 5 to 10, with 10 being the highest. Each of the 10 categories has 4 judges, resulting in a total of 40 judges at the event.

In the Percussion Band category, judges look for consistency amongst all performers and the ability to work in tune with each other. Being innovative within the limited scope allowed (wind and brass instruments are not allowed) is highly favored.

The school’s samba song is judged based on its lyrics, melody and ability to bring out the essence of the theme for the year, while schools that are able to successfully synchronize all the elements of the performance will score in the Harmony category. Flow and Spirit judges the members on how smoothly they are able to maintain the pace of the performance and transition between sections, while at the same time adding character and vitality to the show. Costumes, Floats and Props are judged on their visual appeal, creativity and appropriateness with regard to the theme.

While the Vanguard Commission is judged on the choreography of its performance and how well it catches one’s attention in introducing the school, The Flag Bearer and her escort are judged on how well they coordinate as a couple, their proficiency in dancing, poise, flexibility and range. The Theme of the Year category refers to how creative, understandable and relevant a school’s theme is and how well it has been incorporated in the program, while Overall Impression is a subjective category where schools are judged on the effectiveness of their performance as a whole.

Choosing your ticket for the samba parade

Depending on what you want to see and how much your budget allows you, you can purchase tickets for the samba parade accordingly. The prices vary by day, based on which group is performing. The tickets to watch the Special Group perform are the most expensive, as this is the main show. Opting to attend the Access Group performances might be the perfect choice if you do not wish to spend a lot of money. These tickets are around half the price of the Special Group’s and since the Access Group schools are also excellent performers, it is a good option.

Once you’ve decided which day to go on, there are a variety of seat options to choose from, ranging from unmarked bleachers to luxury suites.

For last minute tickets to the parade, balls and/or tours and accommodation packages, contact our Carnival Help Desk by email or Visit us at our Help Desk located at the Hotel Atlantico Copacabana, in Copacabana.

The Samba Parade Special Group

This parade features the best of the best of all the Samba schools in Rio de Janeiro. The event is telecast worldwide and is considered the high point of carnival not only in Brazil, but around the world. The performances are extravagant, with the carnival designers competing to out to each other.

The 2013 Special Group

The participants for the 2013 special group Samba parade in order of their appearance at the Sambodromo are as follows:

Sunday, February 10th 2013, beginning at 9 pm:
  1. Inocentes de Belford Roxo
  2. Salgueiro
  3. Unidos da Tijuca
  4. União da Ilha
  5. Mocidade
  6. Portela
Monday, February 11th 2013, beginning at 9 pm
  1. São Clemente
  2. Mangueira
  3. Beija-flor
  4. Grande Rio
  5. Imperatriz
  6. Vila Isabel

Warming up before the parade

The performers gather in an area known as Concentration or “Concentracão”, just outside the Sambodromo. This serves as the warm up location and the atmosphere here is great, with participants stretching, getting into formation and practicing steps for one last time. Also known as ‘the heats’ this usually lasts for no more than 10 minutes. At any given time two schools congregate in this area, waiting for their turn to be announced over the microphone.

LIESA Rankings

LIESA or the Independent League of Samba Schools of Rio de Janeiro organizes the annual parade at the Sambodromo. According to its regulations, the winner of the previous year’s Access Group opens the Special Group parade on Sunday, while the group with the second lowest points opens Monday’s Samba parade. As per the LIESA rankings which is based on a 5 year period, at the end of the 2011 carnival, the top 3 schools were Beija Flor, Grande Rio and Vila Isabel, in that order.

LIESA Regulations

LIESA has a number of strict regulations that the Samba schools must keep in mind when preparing for their parade. For example, besides the 10 categories in which they will be judged, each group must parade for a minimum of 65 minutes and must not exceed a maximum of 82 minutes. For every minute not used or over exceeded the Samba school loses one-tenth of a point.

Rules also exist regarding the number of participants in each discipline. A minimum of 10 and maximum of 15 performers can make up the Front Commission, while school must have at least 100 percussionist drummers. Failure to comply with these regulations will cost the school half a point. These and several other guidelines are laid out in the official Carnival Regulation book that is brought out every year.

Special Group parade tickets

You can opt for either assigned seats or unmarked ones at the Sambodromo. The unmarked seats in the Grandstand are the most economical. The benefit with assigned seats is that you can leave the venue and return as you like, without worrying about someone claiming your seat. “Allocated Chairs” are the most affordable of the assigned seats and offer a front row view of the parade in Sectors 12 and 13.

If you are going in a group, a Front Box or ‘frisa’ might be a good option. These are boxes containing 6 chairs (but you don’t have to buy the entire box). There are 4 rows marked A to D, with A and B closest to the runway.

To watch the show in ultimate luxury, opt for the Luxury Suite, where you will have VIP Service with Open Bar and Buffet included.

The Samba Parade Access Group

The participants in the Access Group or Gold Group are perhaps not given as much reverence as those in the Special Group, but they consist of excellent performers as well. Composed of 19 of Rio’s big samba schools, the competition is fierce in this category, as the winner makes it to the Special Group parade of the following year. This is the best option for those who do not want to spend huge amounts of money, but are still interested in watching exceptional performances.

The 2013 Access Group

This group, also known as Gold Group always parades on Carnival Saturday and the lineup for the 2013 parade at the Sambodromo, in order of appearance will be as follows:

Friday, February 8, 2013, beginning at 9 pm
  1. Unidos do Jacarezinho
  2. Porto da Pedra
  3. Acadêmicos de Santa Cruz
  4. Vila Santa Tereza
  5. União do Parque Curicica
  6. Estácio de Sá
  7. Alegria da Zona Sul
  8. Acadêmicos da Rocinha
  9. Unidos do Viradouro
Saturday, February 9 2013, beginning at 9 pm
  1. União de Jacarepaguá
  2. Paraíso do Tuiuti
  3. Tradição
  4. Império Serrano
  5. Acadêmicos do Cubango
  6. Sereno de Campo Grande
  7. Império da Tijuca
  8. Caprichosos de Pilares
  9. Unidos de Padre Miguel
  10. Renascer de Jacarepaguá

A choice of tickets at the Sambodromo

If you decide to attend Gold Group’s samba parade, the prices will be considerably lower, as compared to the Special Group’s parade. There are various types of seats to choose from. The Grandstand seats or bleachers, with unmarked seats are the cheapest tickets. Allocated seats can be bought for chairs, boxes or suites. The seats in Sector 9 are all numbered and this section, known as the tourist section is a little more expensive. In this section however, you will not find many of the local Cariocas, so it may not be the best place if you want to truly experience the Carnival culture.

Some people recommend that the best place in the Sambodromo is near the drummers’ niche, where the “baterias” stop to play and the acoustics are perfect. These include the Sectors 8, 9. 10 and 11. Others say that Sector 5 and 4 offers good value for money, as it is well priced and located in the middle, offering an excellent view of the front and rear of the parade. There are thus a variety of tickets for you to choose from, depending on what you would like to experience.

For last minute tickets to the parade, balls and/or tours and accommodation packages, contact our Carnival Help Desk by email or Visit us at our Help Desk located at the Hotel Atlantico Copacabana, in Copacabana.

The Winners Parade

Also known as the Champions’ Parade, the Winners’ Parade is a procession comprising of the Samba schools ranked numbers 1 to 6 in the Special Group parade. This isn’t a competition, but only an occasion to honor the winners – like a victory parade. As a result the atmosphere is much more relaxed. It is also a time of pride and emotion as the winning schools who have worked so hard throughout the year finally reap the fruit of their labor.

When it takes place

Traditionally, the Winners’ Parade takes place on the Saturday after Carnival and accordingly in the coming year it will take place on Saturday, February 16th 2013. It begins at 9 pm and goes on till the early hours of Sunday morning. The 5th runner up will perform first and the order will be sequentially followed backwards till the Grand Champion who will perform for an hour and a quarter, beginning at 2.25 am.

Judging and announcing the winner

The participants of the Special Group are judged in 10 categories, ranging from theme and overall performance to the floats, costumes and performances of the flag bearer and the vanguard commission. Each of these ten categories is evaluated by four judges, thus making it a total of forty judges that assess the Samba parade competition.

On Ash Wednesday at the Apotheoses Square at the end of the Sambodromo runway, the meticulous task of tabulating and announcing the results of each school, category by category is conducted, before declaring the champion of the year.

Tickets to the Winners’ Parade

Tickets to the Champions’ Parade are a fair bit cheaper than tickets to the Special Group performances – around half the price for some tickets – though the show is just as spectacular. It is also less crowded and is filled with a lot of Cariocas who come in support of their favorite Samba school. The fervor with which they regard their Samba school is comparable to the passion they have for their favorite football team. It is a good option to attend this if you do not want to spend a lot of money attending the parades of Carnival Sunday and Monday and if you want to mingle with the locals to experience how passionate they are about the event. The streets of Rio and the area surrounding the Sambodromo would be almost be back to normal by this time as most people get back to work after Fat Tuesday. As with the other parades, tickets can be purchased for the grandstands, allotted chairs front boxes and luxury suites.

Although tickets to the parades held at the Sambodromo can be bought much in advance, the actual tickets are only issued a week before Carnival, for fear of fraud and for security reasons.

For last minute tickets to the parade, balls and/or tours and accommodation packages, contact our Carnival Help Desk by email or Visit us at our Help Desk located at the Hotel Atlantico Copacabana, in Copacabana.

Elements of the Rio Samba Parade

The Samba parade conducted at the Sambodromo is made up of competing schools and each school’s routine is made up of a number of elements, which form the basis on which the individual school’s performance is judged.

Besides the schools that take part, the parade has a number of other crucial players. The Carnival King or “Rei Momo” called so after the Greek god of mockery inaugurates the Carnival celebrations, when the key of the city is handed over to him. Usually a tall and well-built man will be chosen for this role, to mirror the image of the original Greek god. A number of women compete for the title of Carnival Queen, a beautiful, confident and superior Samba dancer, who is supposed to more than anything else, embody the spirit of Carnival. The 1st and 2nd runners up are named the Carnival Princesses.

The many facets of a Samba school parade

Each school’s Samba show is made up of thousands of performers, so it is essential that each person knows exactly what their part is and carries it out in a timely manner to ensure the overall success of the school’s parade.

Once the theme for the year is chosen, the role of the Carnival Designer or “Carnavalesco” begins. He is responsible for ensuring that the design of every costume, float and accessory is magnificent and representative of the theme. He oversees the rehearsals and choreography and is responsible for the direction and production of the entire performance.

The participants of the parade are split into various groups, each having a particular role. These are called the Wings or “Alas” of the parade and can be composed of between 20 and 100 people. Each Ala will wear a particular costume and perform the same role. The wing that opens the school’s parade is known as the Vanguard Commission or the Front Commission and their performances are very skillfully put together, as this is the first impression the school gives to the audience and judges. Each wing has its own president whose responsibility it is to make sure that the costumes are produced on time and as per the instructions of the Carnavalesco. He is also in charge of the sales of the particular wing’s costumes.

The Flag Bearer or “Porta-bandeira” who carries the school’s flag and her symbolically appointed protector or “Mestre-sala” are usually the most highly skilled dancers. The Queen or “Rainha” of the Samba school leads the procession in her elaborate costume. Sometimes schools have a Godmother or “Madrinha” who has been with the school for a long period of time. Some schools have even had a godmother as old as 72 years in the parade.

In between the wings are usually 8 and 10 floats, which are highly decorated according to the theme and often carry special guests. The school’s “Bateria” is its 250 – 300 strong percussion band, mainly composed of drummers that are like the pounding heart of the school. This group is led by the Queen of the Drummers, a beautiful Samba dancer, who brings in the percussionists, and is supposed to inspire them to perform well. The Sound Truck carries the Vocalists – usually led by a powerful lead male vocal – who sing the Samba school’s theme song over powerful mikes.

The Samba Dancers or “Passistas” are amongst the best dancers of the school and this group usually numbers no more than 20, as it is extremely difficult to do justice to the fast paced Samba while participating in a slow moving parade.

The Samba Song

The Samba song is practiced for many months by the school, before it is performed at the Rio Carnival. The song must be representative of the theme that the Samba school has chosen for the year and during the competition the song is judged on this, its lyrics and melody. By Christmas time or around 2 months before Carnival celebrations the school brings out a record of its theme song for sale.

The Spectators

In the specially designed Sambodromo around 70000 spectators watch the show from bleachers, cabins or enclosed boxes and cheer for their favorite school. If you book in advance and buy the required Samba costume, you could participate in one of the school’s parades instead of merely being a spectator. The incident is sure to be a once in a life time experience.

The Judges

The judges who are located along the Sambodromo Avenue, judge the schools in categories that number 10, ranging from the Samba song to the flag bearer’s performance.

Samba schools

Samba schools usually belong to a particular neighborhood or in some cases to a ‘favela’, the name given to a shanty town in Brazil. These schools promote the Brazilian – African dance form of Samba throughout the year, and several months before Carnival, they begin their preparations for the Samba Parade. First, the year’s theme is chosen and then all the other elements come together, in keeping with the theme, such as the song for the year, the costumes, the choreography, the floats etc.

In Rio, as opposed to traditional dance schools in other parts of the world, the Samba schools mainly consist of volunteers from the local neighborhood, usually a slum or shanty town. Money is raised from the sales of their school’s tickets for the Samba parade or by sponsorship. Each school usually has a particular political, commercial or social interest as well, and often plays an important role in the development of the particular locality. Within these impoverished societies these schools are pivotal in creating a sense of belonging and purpose.

Samba Parade Rehearsals

Practice for the parade usually begins sometime in August and by December rehearsals are in full swing. By Christmas the school brings out records of its theme song. Around a month before Carnival, the schools’ rehearsals, held once or twice a week, are open to the public. These provide a great opportunity to watch some of the best Samba dancers of Rio perform in their own neighborhood. Most schools will also allow visitors to participate. Since many of the schools are located in ‘favelas’ it is recommended to visit the ones that are not too far from the city’s main localities. Mangueira is the biggest and safest school to visit as it draws a lot of tourists every year and there are always adequate security measures. A token entrance fee is usually charged.

The schools which are participating in the Samba Parade rehearse at the Sambodromo itself. These rehearsals which can be watched for free differ from the actual day in that performers do not wear costumes, and trucks instead of decorated floats make their way down the runway. Still, it is a great way to get into the mood for Carnival, to see some great dancing, hear some fabulous music and mingle with the locals or Cariocas, as the people from Rio are known. The final rehearsal is quite spectacular when routines are completely in place and sound and light systems fully operational. The Sambodromo is jam-packed at this time, as people can watch the performance for free. After the final rehearsal, some of Rio’s time-honored street bands – such as Cordão do Bola Preta – perform at the venue and everyone joins in at what turns into a big street party.

Famous Samba schools of Rio

There are over 70 Samba schools in Rio, and they all participate in the annual carnival celebrations. Each school has its own trademark colors. Some of the famous schools include Mangueira, which is one of the most popular schools, while Mocidade which is over 50 years old and Portela which has one the competition 21 times are amongst the oldest. Though Beija-Flor, named after the Humming Bird, which is frequently found in Brazil is not located in Rio city, it is amongst the highest ranked Samba schools. Other famous Samba Schools are Salgueiro, Unidos da Tijuca, União da Ilha and Vila Isabel.

The Sambodromo

Before the construction of the Sambodromo in 1984, the parade used to be held at President Vargas Avenue, a large road in downtown Rio. Stands used to be constructed every year before the parade and pulled down once it was over. By 1983 it had become evident that the make-shift venue would not suffice to accommodate the large scale event that the carnival celebrations had turned into. Leonel Brizola the Governor at the time hired no less than Oscar Niemeyer to design a permanent Samba parade venue, which was inaugurated on 2 nd March 1984.

When to Arrive

The Sambodromo opens its doors at 17:00. Some already queue up for it to get the best seats in the sectors without allocated seats, which are considered to be the ones near the front. There is a little welcome show at 20:00 with King Momo opening the night passing through the Sambodromo. Not very interesting in our opinion. An average person truly enjoys and generally watches 3-5 samba schools. Thus, we think, to arrive only around 22:00-22:30 is not a bad idea. You can also time your arrival to watch the best schools.

How to Dress and What to Take

Wear whatever you prefer. There are no rules, not even standards what to wear. People and celebrities in the boxes will dress up however. In the Grand Stand sectors, informal street style rules. Use very light clothing as it is usually hot throughout the night, and dark colors not to get too dirty. A raincoat should be considered for the eventuality of a summer shower nevertheless if it rains, vendors will surely have them on sale there.

One person can only take up to two plastic containers of 500ml and two items of food (e.g. sandwich).

Not allowed in the Sambodromo

- Umbrellas, objects made of polystyrene and glass, weapons, firecrackers and fireworks.

There are fast food kiosks in all sectors. We suggest having your dinner before setting off and attend fast food restaurants just for snacks. You could take some food such as fruits. As the show is extremely long and goes on until sun-rise, some people take little pillows to seat. You can take some toilet tissue as in the later hours it might run short in the toilets. Some people take binoculars/theatre glasses.

You can take any type of still picture camera. However video cameras are not allowed. It is totally safe inside the Sambodromo. But be warned – only show them after you already checked in and be careful with anything valuable outside.

How to get to the Sambodromo

There are a number of ways to get to and from the Sambodromo. A radio taxi service, authorized by the government will take you to the venue. They are easily identified by the stickers on their vehicles, and up to 4 people can share the cost of these cabs. To return from the venue to your hotel, these cabs can be found for hire between Sectors 9 and 11. If you are willing to walk a bit you could take the subway, which stops a few blocks away. This is also the cheapest option. The subway is safe on those days and leaves you very close to the Sambodromo when all other traffic comes to a still-stand around the Sambodromo. Avoid taking busses there.

The absolute most convenient way to get to the sambadrome is with our guided roundtrip shuttle service. It picks you up at your hotel or nearby and you can return any time back to your hotel after midnight. All guided and assisted with our staff at the sambadrome.

Option 1 – Guided Roundtrip Shuttle Service – US$ 79 per person

This transfers will leave you within 2 blocks of the entrance of your sector.

Returning from Sambodrome to Hotels.

After midnight, upon the end of each samba school presentation (each lasts approximately 1 hour), a bus will be leaving from the Sambadrome to take guests back to their hotels. Drop-offs are done only at hotels located along the beach – therefore guests of hotels not located along the beach should get off of the bus at one of the beach-side hotels and walk and/or take a taxi to their respective hotels.
Unfortunately guests will not be accompanied by bilingual staff on the return bus ride to the hotel; Guests should contact Blumar/Rio Carnival staff at the Sambadrome to receive information and direction to the return bus pick up location.

Option 2 – Private Guided Transfers

All Private Guided Transfers to Sector 7, 9 and 11 will be provided by BLUMAR TURISMO, our rep in Brazil. Blumar 24-hour Emergency phone number is 021-7845-5940.

Private round trip transfer with guide - USD 1,578 bulk service – includes pick up at hotel, drop off at sambadrome / pick up at sambadrome , drop off at hotel. Clients will be accompanied by an English speaking tour guide during transfer. Car will be at clients disposal during parade, so they can return to the hotel at the time they choose. Clients must inform our carnival staff at sambadrome approximately 30 minutes in advance before leaving. Service is done by sprinter with space for 1-9 passengers.

This service can also be booked:

- Private Transportation - Hotel/Sambadrome – with guide and Sambadrome/Hotel without guide – USD 1,224 bulk service.

- Hotel/Sambadrome in private transportation with guide and Sambadrome/Hotel by shuttle –USD 855 bulk service.

Guides will accompany clients during the transfer service, however will not be allowed access into Sambadrome (Inside Sambadrome, all assistance will be done by our Rio representative Blumar staff)

Option 3 – Taxi Service

By Taxi Service
Coopatur - Ph: 2573-1009 / 3885-1000
Coopertramo - Ph: 2560-2022 / 2560-1474

We suggest the use of private taxi companies, rather than street cabs. Those two companies have the credentials to serve the Sambadrome with exclusivity, on samba parade days. To schedule your pickup, call the taxi company. In the way back, you should go to Sector 11 and look for their booth or somebody walking by with their name on the t-shirt. English is spoken by people taking the orders. Approximately US$ 65 each way per car with capacity for 4 people.

Option 4 – Subway. Or Tube. Or Metro.

Will be working uninterruptedly from Saturday (February 09th) to Tuesday (February 12st). For clients staying in Ipanema or Copacabana area, best option is to take one of the subway stations in Copacabana – Line 1:

- Estação Cantagalo - Praça Eugenio Jardim – Copacabana

- Estaçao Siqueira Campos – Rua Siqueira Campos – Copacabana

- Estaçao Cardeal Arcoverde – Rua Barata Ribeiro – Copacabana

- Estacao General Osorio – Praça General Osório - Ipanema

To go to Odd numbered Sectors 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13 get off on Estação Central. (10 min walking distance)

To go to Even numbered Sectors 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 get off on Estação Praça Onze. (15 min walking distance)

It’s okay to use the subway if you are parading with a costume. In fact, you will see lots of people dressed to parade with the Samba Schools.

Central Location

Located in the heart of Rio de Janeiro, the Passarela do Samba Darcy Ribeiro or the Sambodromo can easily be accessed from Rio’s International airport. It is located right at the heart of Rio and thus close to various hotels, cultural centers, restaurants, metro stations and also to other Carnival festivities such as the Cinelandia street parties and the street bands competition. It is also close to the South Zone where a lot of the parties and balls, such as the Scala balls take place.

A purpose built venue

Recognised as the biggest stage in the world, the Sambodrome is designed to accommodate large numbers of people, which usually comprises of close to 100000 spectators and participants. This permanent structure is used for other cultural events during the year as well as for shows by international artists that perform in Rio.

Sambodrome tickets

For last minute tickets to the parade, balls and/or tours and accommodation packages, contact our Carnival Help Desk by email or Visit us at our Help Desk located at the Hotel Atlantico Copacabana, in Copacabana.

Though the tickets can be purchased well in advance, they will only be issued a week before Carnival, for fear of duplicates being made and also for security reasons.

Depending on what your budget is and what you would like to see, there are a variety of options to choose from. Seats can be right next to the parade at ground level or elevated for those who prefer a broader view, while seat types range from economical concrete bleachers to expensive, plush suites, offering 5 star amenities.

The Rio Sambodrome Sectors and Carnival Tickets

The 2013 Rio Carnival promises to be an unforgettable experience and fortunately there are a host of options for you to review while choosing your Samba parade tickets in the great Sambodrome.

Types of Parade Tickets

The first thing you should consider is the types of tickets you would like to buy. There are four options – the grandstands or arquibancadas, luxury suites or camarotes, frisas or open boxes and allocated chairs or cadeiras avulsas.


These are the most popular and readily available types of Carnival Tickets. It consists of free seating on large concrete steps of the Sambodrome. Since you will not get any allocated seats (only at sector 9), it is best you come early and choose your location to get a good view of the parade and be prepared to lose your spot if you decide to get up.

Luxury Suites or Camarotes

If you want to enjoy the 2013 Rio Carnival in first class style and comfort then the camarotes are the perfect choice for you. These covered boxes can seat about ten to twelve people in air conditioned comfort along with free alcohol, food and private security. Parade tickets are very pricey making it a favorite with the wealthy and illustrious. The camarotes goes from Sector 2 to 11 of the Sambodrome.

Frisas or Open Boxes

Located in front of most of the sectors, these seats are an excellent alternative to the high priced luxury suites. Considered by many as the best way to experience the Rio Carnival, the frisas are similar to the camarotes except they are uncovered and don’t enjoy the VIP perks. Instead you will get a seat to yourself with more space to move around then the Grandstands. Food and beverages can be purchased in the area.

Allocated Chairs or Cadeiras Avulsas

These are located in front of the grandstands of sector 12 and 13. They don’t have the best views of the Samba Parade but are a viable option. The allocated chairs are moderately priced and since they are right in front can provide a better view than some of the other locations.

Sector 1 for the Young at Heart

The parade tickets in sector 1 are restricted to the grandstands and are not available to public. They are handed over to schools and colleges for the students to attend, Rio’s way of making the parade accessible to everyone.

Odd and Even Sectors the Grandstands of Choice

If you want to experience the Carnival in the grandstand, then get your Samba Parade tickets in odd sectors 3, 5, 7, 11 or 13 or in the even sectors 2,4,6,8,10 or 12. Sector 7 s where the judges are seated and arguably has the best view of the performances. It is also the place where the Samba schools perform their very best, so getting seats here will assure you a great festival. Here is the place to groove with all the locals and experience some authentic Carnival vibes.

Sector 9 the Tourist Section

Sector 9 is Rio’s way of saying that tourists are as welcome to the Sambodrome and the Grand Rio Samba Parade as all the Brazilians. This sector has got numbered chairs all over the grandstand and provides the ticket holders an excellent view of the parade. Plus it is located just next to the drummers’ niche so the acoustics here are the very best.

Sector 11 Hard to Come By

Sector 11 consists of grandstand tickets which are hard to obtain as most are booked by cruise lines and others given away in lucky draws. It is also located close to the drummers so the greatest bonus about this section is its excellent audio of the Samba Parade

Section 12 & 13 for Those on a Budget

These Grandstands sectors are at the Apotheosis Plaza at the very end of the parade. Parade tickets here are cheaper and most are given out to the poorer sections in the neighborhood so that they too can enjoy the great 2013 Rio Carnival. For those that want the comfort of leaving and coming back to stretch your legs, buy food, there is the option of Assigned Sits on this sector, they are numbered so you can leave without any hassle or worries of losing your seat.

Sambodromo Map

An overview of the Sambodromo map will give you a good understanding of where each category of seats is located, in terms of closeness to the Samba parade runway, as well as in terms of how close to or far away from the Apotheosis Square – the end of the runway – they are.

Amenities at the sambodromo

The venue contains restrooms, a taxi stand comprising of official taxis whose sole purpose is to take spectators to and from the Sambodrome, a souvenir shop and a number of vendors selling food and refreshments. The luxury suite package includes buffet meals, open bar and also has a waiter service.

Security measures are high and the venue is considered to be the safest place in the whole of South America, during Carnival. The presence of a number of high profile visitors ensures this. The Brazilian government takes extensive security measures to ensure that this event that attracts a huge number of tourists every year goes off without any untoward incidents.

Capacity and various sectors

The Sambodrome can accommodate over 70000 spectators and sees well over 5000 performers on each Samba school. The Sambodromo is divided into concrete structures known as sectors, with even numbered sectors on one side and odd numbered sectors on the other. Tickets are sold for unmarked and marked seats, which are located in the concrete grandstands, boxes and luxury suites. Tickets to the 2013 parade can be bought online all year round or via our Hospitality Desk during Carnival.

Other events held at the Sambodromo

Many of the international artists that come to Rio perform at the Sambodromo. In the past, performances have included James Blunt, Guns n Roses, Carlos Santana, Robbie Williams, Bob Dylan, Radiohead, Jonas Brothers, Avril Lavigne, Madonna, Black Eyed Peas, Coldplay and Radiohead to name just a few. This will also be the venue for the athletics marathon and archery events of the 2016 Summer Olympics.

As in indicated in the map, the front boxes of the Sambodromo are located closest to the parade runway on either side of it. Next comes the luxury suites which are located at an elevation, thus giving a broader view of the entire show. Furthest away from the runway are the grandstands, also at an elevation. The allocated chairs are located closer to the end of the runway. If looking towards the end of the runway, even numbered sectors flank the right side of the Sambodrome, while odd numbered sectors are on the left.

The Rio Carnival Balls

The Rio Carnival 2013 is a six day long nonstop party with music, dancing, parades, floats, merry making, drinking and very little sleeping. One of the features that make it so enthralling is the Rio Carnival Balls.

Brief History

The first masked ball took place in 1849 and cost two thousand reis to enter. The next occurred in the 1870’s. Soon popularity of balls grew and it became only natural to conduct balls during the Rio Carnival, when merriment and the party atmosphere was the most. Major hotels and establishments began holding grand and ostentatious events like the Magic Ball at the Copacabana Palace or the Ball at the Theatre Palacio. Over time the Night Club culture took over and the Rio Carnival evolved. Today the Magic Ball at the Copacabana Palace is the only remaining luxury ball and the Scala Rio Nightclub has become hugely popular with its six thematic balls during the Carnival.

The Copacabana Magic Ball

The 2013 Magic Ball at the Copacabana Palace Hotel is the most glamorous and prestigious Rio Carnival Ball. Ticket prices are the most expensive and elite event of the Carnival. The guest list has already been comprised of well known international names like Brigitte Bardot and Vincent Cassel, and of course Brazilian film stars and socialites. It is a red carpeted and widely televised event, full of high fashion and five star service. If your budget permits, the Magic Ball is one event you don’t want to miss.

The Scala Rio Balls

The Scala Rio night club located in downtown Rio is the venue for six exciting and memorable shing dings popularly known as the Scala Rio Balls. The 2013 party season kicks off on Thursday February 08 th with the Cordão do Bola Preta Ball, followed by the Mangueira Ball, the City Ball and the Ball of the ‘Beer’, leading to the grand finale on Tuesday, the Gay Ball. This celebration is a widely televised event which attracts gays, lesbians, cross dressers, transvestites and a whole bunch of straight people. The guests attending the ball come in their most ostentatious, flashy and flamboyant outfits.

The Fabulous Street Parties

The Rio Carnival also has a number of free Carnival Balls also called Street Parties. Party goers, locals, musicians and dancers all gather at a public place and begin to parade down the streets, following a band playing the Carnival music. It is an ideal way to experience the sense of the city through the eyes of the locals. The best part of course is that it is absolutely free.

Speaking of Tickets

All the 2013 Rio Carnival Balls offer two types of tickets, standing tickets which don’t include dinner and VIP box tickets which include dinner. The Magic Ball’s tickets can be purchased in groups of four or more with tables, the standing tickets don't give you a seat in the tables but are the cheaper option. The Gay Ball and the Magic Ball are the most popular balls, so book your tickets well in advance.

For last minute tickets to the parade, balls and/or tours and accommodation packages, contact our Carnival Help Desk by email or Visit us at our Help Desk located at the Hotel Atlantico Copacabana, in Copacabana.

Party Planner

This is your Program Guide for the 2013 Rio Carnival. We have organized it into 2 sections

A - MAJOR EVENTS DAY BY DAY - only the most important and interesting ones

It is, in fact, already a few weeks before Carnival that many parties, the most animated school rehearsals, the competition for the election of the Carnival King and Queen, the samba shows, the final rehearsals in the samba schools and the costume exhibitions have already started to take place. Start and dive into it straight after your arrival. We have added our own recommendations in {…} Please note that all times are “Brazilian times”. Take them with a pinch of salt and do not expect any event to start on the dot.



After 8pm - Popular dances at Cinelândia Square
8pm Concerts start at Samba Land – Terreirão - and in Lapa
11pm Rio Scala ball


1pm Official opening of the 2013 Rio Carnival. Rio’s mayor crowns the Carnival King (Momo) and
hands over the keys of the city to him in the presence of the Carnival Queen and Princesses
3pm Bloco Carmelitas – Street Party
9pm Access Group Parade at the Sambodromo


09.30am Street Band Cordão do Bola Preta
6pm Banda de Ipanema, Ipanema
9pm Access Group Parade at the Sambodromo
11pm The Magic Ball at Copacabana Palace Hotel


9pm Parade of the Samba Schools in the Special Group


9pm Parade of the Samba Schools in the Special Group


6pm Banda de Ipanema goes out for the last time
11pm Gay Costume Ball in Rio Scala
19pm Children’s Samba Schools Parade at the Sambodromo



We suggest sampling a bit of all types of programs and going to every type at least once. We have printed in bold or highlighted with {our recommendation} the “best” ones, in all categories. You can combine events in the same area one day/night, like Dances in Cinelândia with parties in Lapa, which are very close, both happening downtown.


A show, display and competition of the samba schools. The two major nights are Sunday and Monday. Only miss them if you can’t afford to go. In that case you can go on some other day, which are significantly cheaper and also give you an idea. Second best night is the Champions´ Parade on Saturday, third best being the Access Group on Friday and Saturday. Venue: Sambódromo, Rua Marquês de Sapucaí, Praça Onze, Cidade Nova

  1. Samba Schools in the Access Group (Gold Group)
    Friday, February 8, first school at 9pm
    Saturday, February 9 , first school at 9pm

    They are 19 large and important schools. The champion of this parade ascends to the Special Group. A good opportunity to see a parade on the cheap. It’s a very good opportunity to parade with a costume….It’s a full-crowd, animated party.

  2. Samba Schools in the Special Group
    Sunday, February 10, doors open at 5pm, opening ceremony at 8pm, parades start at 9pm.
    Monday, February 11, doors open at 5pm, opening ceremony at 8pm, parades start at 9pm.

    This is THE Parade, the high-point of Rio Carnival, with six schools parading on both nights. The schools belonging to this group are especially magnificent and sumptuous, each containing approximately five thousand participants including Brazilian show-business celebrities. Only miss it if it is beyond your budget.

  3. Children’s Samba Schools
    Friday, February 12, 7pm (doors open at 5pm)

    These are branches of the big samba schools made up of children of each community Their parade follows the procedure of the big schools.

  4. Champions' Parade
    Saturday, February 16, starts at 9pm

    The 6 best samba schools of the Special Group, from Sunday and Monday, parade in their entire splendor once more with fireworks. Very beautiful and much cheaper than on the competition nights, the second best parade.


    Saturday, February 9

    This legendary ball is not just the high point of the night but also the most famous Carnival ball; the natural choice for glamour and sophistication. Luxury costumes or black tie are required, and a number of international and local VIPs are always among the guests. Buffet dinner and free bar.

    There are different tickets for the individual dining rooms. All tickets provide access to all ballrooms. In the Golden Room you can dance to the sounds of a live band. Standing tickets are without a table; however, good weather allowing, there are tables on the balcony.


    In its 21st year, the Rio Scala nightclub has moved from Leblon to the Downtown area of Rio. Offering thematic dances every night during Carnival, The Scala Rio is famous for the grandest indoor carnival parties of the city. Located now at Rua 13 de Maio, 23, accessible by subway – station Cinelandia or by cab, the Scala is located in a pedestrian street behind the Teatro Municipal in Cinelandia. You can’t miss it. You are advised to buy tickets for the Scala Balls in advance. Table prices per table seating 4 people.

    VIP box prices are per person and include unlimited alcoholic drinks (except whiskey) and free buffet with sushi, fruit and snack bar.

    To get tickets, contact our Help Desk by email or visit us online at


This is an open-air space that resuscitates the old atmosphere of Praça Onze, a big square downtown near the Sambodromo, the cradle of samba. It is inaugurated before Carnival, and is functioning at full steam through all nights of the festivity. Concerts of Brazilian popular music mixed with samba take place on an imposing stage. Kiosks sell food and drinks. Do sample it and don’t take it seriously. A festival atmosphere prevails. They play a hotchpotch of popular Brazilian music now, having abandoned the old tradition of only playing carnival music with samba.

February 09th until 11th and 16th from 8pm to 5:30am

Venue: Praça Onze - Centro (Downtown)

Admission: R$10.00 (at the door)


It takes place near the Arches of Lapa, where the young usually gather Friday nights all year around. Rio Carnival has been long known as a nursery for novelties of rhythm and styles. It always has pleasant surprises featuring concerts ranging from traditional Brazilian music to the latest trends. A total hotchpotch of all styles and qualities; young crowd; go once; best late at night.

There is an eating area (of Brazilian style, do not expect any sophistication) which includes little drink and barbecue stands. Lots of booze and cheap “junk” food.

Venue: Arcos da Lapa – Lapa

All Carnival nights (Friday-Tuesday) after 20.00
{Go late and just linger around and let it go; more suitable for the young}


From Carnival Saturday to Tuesday, open-air dances take place throughout the city. The emphasis is on joy and spontaneity. The biggest and most organized one is on Cinelândia Square.


At Cinelândia, the open-air party lasts for five days to the sounds of acclaimed orchestras and singers, symbols of carnival music, reviving the atmosphere of the carnival balls of the past.

There is a stage on the square with the idols and most well-known singers of the times of the wireless (from the 40-60s). Good, old Brazilian-Rio music, mainly samba. The crowd (mainly older and working- class people) joins in with all vigor and dances away just like in the good old times.

Venue: Praça Floriano - Cinelândia - Centro (Downtown)

Every Carnival night (Friday-Tuesday)


On Samba Parade nights, it does not only get packed and crammed inside the Sambodromo. Before, during and after the Parade, thousands of people gather on the streets around the Sambodromo, too. They are also joined by those who paraded in costume and just want to party more, making the crowd even more colorful with their fancy-dresses. It turns the whole downtown area into a huge and lively open-air bar.


They are an absolutely essential part of the Rio Carnival. Street bands (mainly bass) moving through the streets and all people joining in, drinking and dancing away. All you have to do is to turn up and join in; you can also buy the respective T-shirt and start already dancing before the group even takes to the streets.

Go to a few ones probably in Av. Rio Branco and to the The Band of Ipanema - we have pre-selected for you the most interesting and well-known ones.

The biggest ones take place in Av. Rio Branco, Downtown (Centro). From Saturday to Tuesday you can see the greatest variety of street bands there, and it is where the merry-making is at its wildest. A visit at the end of the afternoon is always entertaining.

The most famous Carnival bands are

  • Cordão do Bola Preta is one of the most traditional bands parading downtown. The most crowded street party of Carnival
  • The Street Band of Ipanema (Banda de Ipanema) goes out on three separate days in Ipanema, followed by a huge crowd with lots of gay revelers
  • Suvaco do Cristo parades in the Botanic Garden District, right below the Redeemer's arm. The name translates into "Christ's armpit" in English, and was chosen for that very reason
  • Carmelitas was supposedly created by nuns but in fact it is just an allegory of the band. It parades in the hills of Santa Teresa

Above a selection of the best Carnival Street Bands


City District: IPANEMA

Simpatia é Quase Amor

Date: February 2nd and 10th
Parade: One Saturday before Carnival and Carnival Sunday - 4pm - 8pm
Route: Teixeira de Mello and Vieira Souto - Posto 10 (Country Club)

Banda de Ipanema

Date: February 9th and 12th
Parade: Both Saturdays before Carnival and Fat Tuesday - 6pm - 10pm
Route: Praça General Osório, Ipanema Beach, Leblon

Rio Maracatu

Date: February 10th
Parade: Carnival Sunday 10am
Route: Ipanema Beach, Posto 8

City District: LEBLON

Empurra que pega

Date: February 10th
Parade: Carnival Sunday - 3 pm - 7pm
Route: Avenida Delfim Moreira, from Posto 12 to Posto 11

Mulheres de Chico

Date: February 16th
Parade: Saturday after Carnival – 5pm - 8pm
Route: Gathering at End of Leblon Beach – it remains still

City District: LARANJEIRAS

Gigantes da Lira (Laranjeiras)

Date: February 7th
Parade: Sunday before Carnival – 9am – 2pm
Route: Gather at Praça Aliança at Rua General Glicério, Rua General Glicério, Cristóvão Barcellos, going back to Praça Aliança, at street General Glicério

Bagunça Meu Coreto (Laranjeiras)

Date: February 10th
Parade: Carnival Sunday – 10am
Route: Praça São Salvador.

Volta Alice

Date: February 11th
Parade: Carnival Monday – 9am - 1pm
Route: Rua Alice, from # 1 to # 550, ending at the corner of Mario Portela street

City District: COPACABANA

Empolga às 9

Date: February 9th
Parade: Carnival Saturday – 11am - 3pm
Route: Avenida Atlântica, from Rainha Elizabeth thru Figueiredo Magalhães

Folia do Galo

Date: February 10th
Parade: Carnival Sunday – 1pm
Route: Julio de Castilho, Raul Pompéia, Francisco Otaviano, all along Av. Atlântica thru a Julio de Castilho

City District: DOWNTOWN

Escravos da Mauá (Downtown – Praça Mauá)

Date: February 3rd
Parade: Sunday before Carnival – 12pm - 4pm
Meeting place: Largo de S. Francisco da Prainha, close to Rua Sacadura Cabral
Route: Rua Sacadura Cabral, Praça Mauá, Av. Rio Branco, Rua Mayrink Veiga to Largo de Santa Rita,
Rua do Acre, and back to Praça Mauá

Cordão do Bola Preta (Downtown)

Date: February 9th
Parade: Carnival Saturday – 9:30am - 3pm
Route: Av. Rio Branco from Cinelândia thru Candelária.

Cordão do Boitatá (Downtown)

Date: February 10th
Parade: Carnival Sunday – 8am - 4pm
Route: Rua do Mercado, Praça XV, Paço Imperial, going back to Praça XV, where there is a concert at the end of the parade.

Bangalafumenga (Aterro do Flamengo)

Date: February 10th
Parade: Carnival Saturday – 10am - 3pm
Route: Av. Infante Dom Henrique, in front of Coreto Modernista – goes thru Av. Infante Dom Henrique, in front of Coreto Modernista until MAM

Monobloco (Downtown)

Date: February 17th
Parade Sunday after Carnival - 9 am – 2pm
Route: Av. Rio Branco from Cinelândia thru Candelária

City District: SANTA TERESA

Bloco das Carmelitas

Date: February 8th, 10th and 12th
Parade: Carnival Friday 3pm – 7pm, Carnival Sunday and Fat Tuesday 10am - 2pm
Meeting place: on the corner of Dias de Barros and Ladeira de Santa Teresa
Route: Dias de Barros, Alte. Alexandrino and Largo do Guimarães

Céu na Terra

Date: February 09th
Parade: Carnival Saturday – 8am - 12pm
Meeting: Rua Dias de Barros, in front of the Bar do Serginho
Route: Praça Odilo Costa Neto, Rua Áurea, Rua Oriente, Rua Progresso, thru Largo das Neves


Suvaco do Cristo

Date: February 03rd
Parade: Sunday before Carnival – 9am- 2pm
Meeting: from noon onwards at Bar Jóia (on the corner of Rua Jardim Botânico and Rua Faro)
Route: Rua Jardim Botânico, Praça Santos Dummont, in front of the Jockey Club

There are over 300 blocos and bandas.
For a full list visit our site , click HERE


This is the best way to make contact with the real samba.

All the samba schools have a rehearsal hall that opens, in most cases, at the weekends for anyone. This can be a covered space or be open-air one where you can dance and learn the samba lyrics that will be sung at Carnival. Definitely an experience not to be missed and which won’t be forgotten. There is usually some little admission fee.

The parties take place in the rehearsal spaces of the schools, where the school members and all people interested come together for a dancing night. While dancing mainly to the school’s samba tunes of the year they all sing the song together, practicing it.

It is a bit like a big dance club however with people of all ages, including many old people. You can go to the party of any school. Some of them are very far, even outside of Rio. They can be a bit “too much”, and overpowering at first. We recommend going to Salgueiro and/or Mangueira which are the biggest, safest and most famous ones with many tourists.

People arrive much later than the starting time, just like for a club. Go about 2 hours after the advertised time. However you might not get into Mangueira if you arrive after midnight. A note of warning - they are in very poor areas often on the border of the favelas so don’t go flashy or have anything valuable with and on you. Best to arrive by taxi. Nevertheless it is not as dangerous as it appears. The schools are involved and they make sure that the pundits are fine.

This is the full list of all the 12 schools in the Special Group. Just show the address to your hotel stuff or any taxi driver. Everyone knows them. We recommend the ones in bold as the most accessible and best-known ones with tourists.

Pracinha Wallace Paes Leme 1025 - Nilópolis
Ph: 2791-2866
Thursdays 9:00 pm

Ensaios: Rua Wallace Soares, 5 e 6, Centro, Duque de Caxias.
Ph: 9457-0573
Tuesdays 9:00 pm

Rua Professor Lacê 235 – Ramos
Ph: 2560-8037
Sundays 8:00 pm

Praça Getúlio Vargas, Centro ou Rua Augusto Vasco Aranha, Areia Branca – Belford Roxo
Ph: 2758-0538
Wednesdays 8:00 pm

Rua Visconde de Niterói 1072 - Mangueira
Ph: 2567-4637
Saturdays 10:00 pm

Rua Av. Brasil, 31146 - Padre Miguel
Ph: 3332-5823
Sábados 22:00

Rua Clara Nunes 81 – Madureira
Ph: 2489-6440
Friday 10:00 pm

Rua Silva Teles 104 - Tijuca
Ph: 2288-0389
Wednesdays 8:00 pm
Saturdays 10:00 pm

Rua Presidente Vargas, 3102 - Centro
Ph: 4101-4866
Fridays 10:00 pm

Clube dos Portuários - Av. Francisco Bicalho 47 –São Cristóvão
Ph: 2268-9679
Saturdays 10:00 pm

Estrada do Galeão, 322 – Ilha do Governador
Ph: 3396-8169
Saturdays 11:00 pm

Av. 28 de Setembro 382 - Vila Isabel
Ph: 2578-0077
Saturdays 10:00 pm



These are real parade rehearsals with the wings and the drummers more or less in place, usually taking place in and marching through the streets. However they happen in the schools´ communities which are a really long way and in very impoverished areas. You can go to watch this type of rehearsal of any school but you can only participate in the one of your own School with which you will parade. They can be dangerous for tourists, only go with local people.


All efforts have been made to have all dates, times and prices correct. However there might be mistakes. Please check with the venue before making your arrangements. We cannot take responsibility for decisions made on the basis of this Guide.

Useful Information and Important Numbers in Rio

Office Hours During Carnival

Our Hospitality Desk will function at the

Atlantico Copacabana Hotel
Rua Siqueira Campos 90,
Rio de Janeiro, RJ,
Room Imperial

Thursday February 07th thru Monday February 11th and on Friday and Saturday February 15th and 16th , to assist those who booked for the Winners’ Parade. From 10 AM to 5 PM Local Time.

Click here to see the location on Google Maps.

The Internet! Always!

All emails will be answered/checked during business hours from 10 AM to 5 PM daily, including Saturday and Sunday during Carnival. Email

Emergency Phone Numbers :

For Tickets, transfers to Sambadrome and costumes: +55 21 3717 9417

For hotel accommodations, airport transfers and tours: Blumar +55 21 7845 5940

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