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Rio Carnival

The Guide for Carnival in Rio de Janeiro

On our website you`ll find all information about Carnival in Rio de Janeiro.
Here you'll find all 2018 Rio Carnival events, venues, Rio Carnival's history, 2018 Rio Carnival tickets, costumes for the 2018 Samba Parade and Sambodromo information, accomplished with insiders´ recommendations.
You can book your hotel for the 2018 Carnival in Rio de Janeiro and listen to the Rio Carnival samba songs.

FAQ about Carnival in Rio de Janeiro
know all the essentials about 2018 Rio Carnival

Although Carnival (Carnaval in Portuguese) is celebrated in towns and villages throughout Brazil and other Catholic countries, Rio de Janeiro has long been regarded as the Carnival capital of the world. The Rio Carnaval is not only the biggest Carnival, it is also a benchmark against which every other carnival is compared and one of the most interesting artistic events on the globe. Almost everyone has heard of Rio Carnaval. Foreign visitors to it alone number around 500,000 every year.


Rio Carnival is a wild 5-day celebration, 40 days before Easter.
It officially starts on Friday and finishes on Fat Tuesday with the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday after which one is supposed to abstain from all bodily pleasures. Carnival with all its excesses, celebrated as a profane event, could be interpreted an act of farewell to the pleasures of the flesh. It is usually in February, the hottest month in the Southern Hemisphere, when summer in Rio is at its peak.

There are carnival celebrations on virtually every corner of Brazil, the best-known ones taking place in Recife together with the neighboring Olinda (in the Northeast of Brazil) and Salvador. But the biggest and most famous carnival is undoubtedly Carnival in Rio de Janeiro.

Read all the details of 2018 Rio Carnival - calendar, programs, events and venues with recommendations, schedule and ticket details.

One of the greatest elements of Rio Carnival is that it not only provides entertainment for many people around the world but it also gives a chance to learn about the true culture of Brazil. Carnival is very important to the Brazilians, it sums up their way of thinking and way of life.

It is a euphoric event where people dance, sing, party and have an overdose of fun. There are many parties that take place before, during and after Carnival all night and all day. It allows someone's true heart to come out and have as much fun as possible.

Rio Carnival is the result of months of preparation. People eagerly anticipate the start of each year's Rio Carnival. It begins with the crowning of the Fat King (King Momo), who is presented with a giant silver and gold key by the city's mayor.


Then it is Carnival all over the place, in the streets and squares, bars, clubs and all other venues, taking over the whole city of Rio and culminating in the Rio Carnival Parade also known as the Samba Parade.

Coming to Rio Carnival means a bit of preparation. You should not only book ahead your flight and accommodation but buy your Rio Carnival tickets in advance, too. Study the Rio Carnival 2018 event calendar and pick the ones you intend to attend. Learn when and how to buy your tickets.

Try to organize your accommodation well in advance and get your costumes for the Samba Parade.
After all the preparation work just come, dive in and enjoy it all!

Rio Carnival

2018 - Get well prepared
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Tickets info
Samba Parade Tickets
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Take part in the 2018 Rio Carnival as much as you can. Join the street parties, follow the bands, mingle with the crowd. Parade in the Sambodromo in costume.

Rio de Janeiro Carnival

The Ingredients of Rio Carnival

One of the most involved groups in Rio Carnival are the poorest neighborhoods, they are called favelas. Favelas are shantytowns or slums, in which houses are made of cardboard or other scraps, and they are often without water, electricity and sewage system. However, no matter how bad a situation the favelas´ residents are in, they join in the festivities and they actually "make" the Carnival in Rio. Carnival really means a lot to them, because for once during the year they get to go out and have as much fun as they can. And you will see, they can indeed.

Residents of the favelas are often members of a local samba school and are deeply involved with the performance and costumes of their groups. Carnival and samba are their passion alongside football.

Gays and drag queens come and help out and become very involved in Rio Carnival. For everyone, this is a time to come together as a whole and have fun together. Brazil once becomes the most tolerant society. Gender and social boundaries vanish as many paraders cross-dress.

They may try to organize it, glamorize it, televise it, even industrialize it but Rio Carnival is something that comes deep from the fun-loving soul of the Rio people. It does not depend on any authority or sponsor to happen. Carnival in the streets is a living proof of this passion. It's free, and everybody's welcome to participate.

Rio de Janeiro

Accommodation during Rio Carnival

Book your hotel with us. You should really organize your accommodation for the 2018 Rio Carnival well in advance. The best hotels, especially in South Rio (the Zona Sul) are booked up early, so it¹s a good idea to make a reservation at least 3 or 4 months in advance.

Where to Stay

The well known Zona Sul (Southern Rio) is by far the most pleasant place to stay in Rio. It is by the sea and is the most modern part of the city. Copacabana and Ipanema together form a "big stage" offering "Carnival" at every corner.

Leblon, being a bit more upscale is also an excellent location. Most hotels only offer a fixed-rate 4- 5 night package during Carnival, against prepayment, and these rates are significantly higher than at other times of the year. offers rooms at over 50 hotels, from 2 to 5 stars, beach front or just a couple of blocks from the beach in order to guarantee our party goers the best price on the Internet. Check our accommodation options.

Even though we suggest reserving a hotel room for the service and safety involved, many people in Rio rent their apartments or a room privately during Carnival as rates are so high at that time. You can search under temporary accommodation or through friends.


Rio Carnival History

The roots of Carnival trace back to the ancient Romans and Greeks who celebrated the rites of spring. Across Europe, including France, Spain and Portugal, people annually gave thanks by throwing parties, wearing masks and dancing in the streets. Such traditions were carried over to the New World.

The Portuguese first brought the concept of "celebration or carnival" to Rio around 1850. The practice of holding balls and masquerade parties was imported by the city’s bourgeoisie from Paris. However, in Brazil, the traditions soon became different. Over time, they acquired unique elements deriving from African and Amerindian cultures.

Groups of people would parade through the streets playing music and dancing. It was usual that during Carnival aristocrats would dress up as commoners, men would cross-dress as women and the poor dress up as princes and princesses - social roles and class differences were expected to be forgotten once a year but only for the duration of the festival.

Brazilians used to riot the Carnival until it was accepted by the government as an expression of culture. The black slaves became actively involved in the celebrations. They were able to be free for three days. Nowadays the slums' black communities are still the most involved groups in all the carnival preparations and they are the ones for whom Rio Carnival means the most.

By the end of the 18 century the festivities were enriched by competitions. People would not just dress up in costumes but also perform a parade accompanied by an orchestra of strings, drums and other instruments. These ever more organized competitions became the main attractions of the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro.

Rio Carnival Costume

Until the beginning of the 20th century, street carnival in Rio was musically a very euro centric affair - Polkas, Waltzes, Mazurkas and 'Scottish'. Meanwhile, the emergent working class (made up mainly of Afro Brazilians, along with some gypsies, Russian Jews, Poles etc.) developed their own music and rhythm. These people were mostly based in the central part of Rio, on a land that the rich did not want - on the hills and swamps behind the dockyards - an area which came to be known as 'Little Africa' now recognized as the cradle of samba.

The parades were halted during World War II and started again in 1947. By then the main competition took place downtown on Avenida Rio Branco.

Carnival has gone a long way since it was brought to Rio, having become one of the biggest events in the World. One of the most important recent developments was that the biggest parade the Samba Parade moved from the streets downtown to the purpose-built Sambodromo.

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Rio Carnival music

Almost all the music played during Rio Carnival is samba. It is a uniquely Brazilian music originating from Rio, a dance form that was invented by the poor Afro-Brazilians.

The word samba comes from the Angolan world semba referring to a type of ritual music. The word had a variety of meanings to the African slaves brought to Brazil during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. It meant to pray or invoke the spirits of the ancestors and the gods of the African Pantheon. As a noun, it could mean a complaint, a cry, or something like "the blues".

The Samba Schools

Rio Samba School

The samba schools entertain the community through samba nights and create a pageant for the Samba Parade. They have to pick themes, write music and lyrics, make costumes and floats and practice all year around to succeed in the Parade.

The samba schools are vital elements of Rio Carnival. They are social clubs representing a particular neighborhood, usually a working class community of the slums (favelas). They have a samba hall to entertain and practice their samba, and a separate production unit to make their costumes and floats for their Rio Carnival Parade.

Street Bands
and Parties

Each neighborhood in Rio has its favorite Carnival street band(s). There are more than 300 of them in Rio nowadays and this number increases year by year. Each band has its place or street to parade and for the big ones the streets usually close to the traffic. The processions usually start as early as in January and last till the end of Carnival.

Frequently the people who organize the band's procession compose the music for their own parade.

Rio Carnival Street Bands

The Carnival bands consist of an orchestra, mainly brass. They march along a predetermined route or stay at the same place. Nonetheless they are always joined by hordes of enthusiastic samba revelers dressed in costumes, bathing suits, plain clothes, and many even in drag.

Blocos are usually the smaller ones, attracting more of a neighborhood crowd. Bandas are bigger in size.

The most famous Carnival bands are

  • Cordão do Bola Preta - one of the most traditional bands parading downtown
  • Banda de Ipanema marches on three separate days in Ipanema, followed by a huge crowd with lots of gay revelers
  • Sovaco do Cristo parades in the Botanic Garden District, right below Christ-the Redeemer statue's arm. The name in English translates to "Christ's armpit", 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.

The operation of a Carnival street band is really quite simple. First people gather at some well known spot, such as a square or neighborhood bar. After a couple or more hours of getting together, the band starts marching its way down the streets. Do not miss the initial warm-up gathering. Enjoy the show performed by drag queens and children that stop cars and buses trying in vain to make their way through the crowds. Drivers caught in a band gridlock have nothing to do but relax and enjoy the moment.

2018  Rio's Carnival

Seniors and children of all ages also participate in these marches, so this is the ideal time for the whole family to have a good time together. South Rio bands march in the afternoon. Gathering usually starts around 4 p.m.

Where the bands pass, streets are closed to traffic and bus routes are changed, to avoid the inevitable jam. Some bands attract as many as over 10,000 participants. Most bands also have official T-shirts for sale on the spot for about US$10, to help with the costs. They make great souvenirs, as they are sold only on Rio Carnival days.

Rio Carnival 2018 Schedule

Arriving for
Rio Carnival

Most people fly into Rio's international Airport Galeão. The other city airport, Santos Dumont, is the domestic airport which is located downtown.

Carnaval Rio de Janeiro

From Galeão you can take an air conditioned bus into the city or the South End (Zona Sul) for R$17 (about US$5). The company is called Real and buses leave straight from outside the terminal. Buses stop anywhere on route where requested. A taxi to Copacabana or Ipanema will cost you around R$100 (US$35). Pay by the meter or negotiate a set fee in advance.

There are ATM machines at both airports which work with all major debit/credit card, giving you a better rate than any Foreign Exchange bureau.

You will find more practical advice and insiders´ recommendations for your arrival to Rio Carnival in your Guides.

Rio Carnival Guide

Rio Carnival 2018

Rio Carnival 2018

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Rio Carnival Calendar

2017 February 24th
2018 February 9th
2019 March 1st
2020 February 21st
2021 February 12th

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Carnaval no Rio de Janeiro

Come to Carnival in Rio de Janeiro to see and experience it all yourself!

Go for it, plunge in and and try the whole great plethora of events what Rio Carnival offers.