The world's focus will be on Brazil for next summer's World Cup Finals, but the 2014 Rio Carnival is sure to provide the year's biggest and wildest party!
Having taken place on the streets of Rio de Janeiro since 1823, the 5-day Carnival (Carnaval in Portuguese) is e celebration of carnal pleasures, taking place just before Lent. In 2014 the Carnival will run between Ferbruary 28th until March 5th, with various events taking place all over the city during that time.
The main event of the Carnival each year is the Samba Parade in the Sambodromo. This is a combined show and competition in which the samba schools of Rio de Janeiro compete with each other to put on the best displays for the parades. These will take place on Sunday 2nd March and Monday 3rd, with the main parade of the samba schools in the Special Group taking place on each of these two evenings.
The Special Group is formed of the best 12 schools in the city, and the six best groups selected from the Special Group to perform in the Champions Parade, which takes place on Saturday March 8th. The winning groups perform again, with a spectacular display of fireworks to add to the excitement.
You'll need tickets to get into the Sambodromo for the popular main events, but don't worry if you don't get tickets for these - there are other smaller parades that offer a different experience of Carnival culture. The Access Group of Rio's samba schools - which is a like the league below the Special Group - perform in a parade on Friday 28th February and Saturday 1st March. There are 19 schools in this group and it's also a phenomenal party!
If you want a taste of Carnival for free, there's also a children's parade, which will take place on Tues 4th March. This is comprised of the main schools' children's branches, and features some of the Samba stars of the future practicing for the adults' parades.
There are a selection of lavish Balls that take place during the Carnival, if you feel like getting a less public taste of the party atmosphere around the city. The Samba School Mangueira Ball on Saturday 1st March gives visitors a great opportunity to enjoy one of the city's best traditional samba schools - Mangueira - with the drummers, main dancers, flag bearer and escort attending. Dress in the school's traditional colours of green and pink and rub shoulders with Rio's finest!
The Terreirão do Samba, or Samba Land area is a space featuring live concerts and a wide variety of food stalls throughout the Carnival. Admission is around $10, making it cheaper than most of the parades, and is a great place to sample the local cuisine, washed down with a few Caipirinha cocktails!
All around Rio de Janeiro over the course of the Carnival, street parties and celebrations pop up almost everywhere! The biggest organised street party takes in Cinelândia Square in downtown Rio, and lasts the full five days of the Carnival. Music is performed by some of Brazil's favourite artists, old and new, with older locals especially congregating here for a dance to their favourite tunes from their heyday! Over 300 street bands also take their music to the streets of Rio over the course of the Carnival, as well as in the weeks leading up to the main week.
Check out rio-carnival.net for a more detailed schedule of all Carnival events and take a look at our special offer on a Rio Carnival holiday, saving £100pp on a luxurious beachside hotel package during the festivities.
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