Carnival in Rio de Janeiro – The Samba and “My Bucket List” in Brazil

Rio de Janiero during Carnival

By Bob Dockery, Jr.

(Photo at left of “In the Sambadromo – Parade of the  Samba Schools” by Bob Dockery, Jr.)

Carnival in Rio has always been on my world tour “bucket list.”  I have been to Brazil many times, but never around Carnival. This was the year. I booked my airline ticket far in advance and through one of my Rio contacts, arranged to rent an apartment. During Carnival every landlord requires a minimum of 10 days’ rental. Hotel prices in Rio are astronomical at that time of year, so the ten days was a deal.

I arrived in Rio a few days before Carnival officially began and was joined by friends from San Diego who shared the apartment with me.  We took a city tour that included Sugar Loaf Mountain and Corcovado. At the statue of Christ the Redeemer, high above Rio de Janeiro, the view of the city was breathtaking.

For a week before Carnival the city is alive with activities leading up to the main event. Among them is the opening ceremony, where the Carnival King (Momo) is crowned. Other pre-parade events include the Children’s Samba Parade, the Street Bands Competition, the Costume Competition, Parade of the Samba Schools, samba balls, carnival balls and much more.

costume Carnival in Rio de Janeiro – The Samba and My Bucket List” in Brazil

Samba Night in the Neighborhood. Photo by Bob Dockery, Jr.

Rio becomes even more vibrant than usual, and with each day, the excitement spikes as people arrive from all over the world for the big celebration. On Samba Nights, carnival street bands march through every major neighborhood, followed by enthusiastic crowds who sing and dance along with the music. Costumed men and women and just plain folks parade alongside the bands, joining the fun. In packed restaurants and bars locals and tourists alike lap up the beer and caipirinhas. The caipirinha is to Brazil what the margarita is to Mexico.

Street vendors line Blvd. Atlantico, the street that runs along Rio’s famous Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. And yes, the bikinied Brazilian girls are plentiful on those beaches, soaking up the hot sun, and tanning to a golden brown.

The main Carnival parade takes place over two nights at the Sambadromo, its permanent home. The Sambadromo reminds me of a large drag strip with stands on both sides. The participants march down a long road between them.  I have been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans several times. I’ve attended a couple of Caribbean Goombay parades and a few Rose Bowl parades, but I was not prepared for the grandeur and splendor of Carnival in Rio. I’ve said before and still believe that if you want to see the splendor of Brazil and experience its magnificent culture, then visit the country any time other than Carnival. But if you want to experience something truly special, something you’ll probably do only once in your life, then do Carnival in Rio. You’ll love it.

bobsmall Carnival in Rio de Janeiro – The Samba and My Bucket List” in BrazilAbout Bob Dockery, Jr.

Bob Dockery, Jr. is an avid international traveler and the publisher of Travel and Enjoy Magazine. No wonder his license tags read LUV2GO!

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