The world’s biggest party is nearly upon us: Carnival 2015 in Rio de Janeiro! A whirlwind of partying, samba, infectious beats, elaborate costumes and parades, it’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement of Carnival. If you’re planning on joining in the madness (or need some last bit of inspiration to book your tickets), here is the lowdown on how to spend carnival in Rio.
What To Do
Besides from all the carnival events, you of course should also make use of your time to see more of the Marvellous City. If you specifically want to do guided city tours, remember that the city virtually shuts down during Carnival, thus most tours do not operate during these few days. Arrive beforehand or stay a bit longer to fit in some tours.
You can still, of course, see Rio’s top sights by yourself. A visit to the giant Christ the Redeemer statue atop Corcovado Mountain is an absolute must, as is riding the cable car up Sugarloaf Mountain. Of course, Rio’s top attraction is its beautiful beaches. Relax on iconic beaches like Copacabana and Ipanema, or get active on Barra de Tijuca. If you need some shade and a change of scenery, duck into Tijuca Forest, one of the world’s largest urban forests.
After all the excitement, you might need to recharge your batteries. Take a day trip outside Rio to visit one of the tropical paradises of Buzios or Ilha Grande. Just a short trip from the bustle of Rio, you’ll feel like you’re worlds away.
What To Eat & Drink
While you’re partying on the streets, you’re going to want to quench your thirst. Enjoy an ice cold chopp (a beer), or if you want something slightly easier on your bladder, go for the iconic caipirinha. Just be careful – this drink is powerful and will have you under the table in no time if you don’t pace yourself!
With the heat and the non-stop partying, it is important to stay hydrated. Luckily, Rio has the most amazing exotic fruits and juices, with juice shops all over the place to quench your thirst. And who can resist sipping on some refreshing coconut water out of a freshly hacked coconut?
You’ll need to line your stomach as well. Hit your nearest boteco (bar) for some fried treats, or when you need a big meal, grab a great value and delicious dish at a pay per kilo restaurant – you’ll find them in abundance in Rio.
If you’re looking for something on the go, there’s no shortage of great street food either. Grab a few tapiocas, espetinhos or a bag of popcorn (Carioca style – you can add anything from bacon to condensed milk to your popcorn here), and you’ll be good to go!
Where To Carnival
Carnival kicks off on Friday 13 February, lasting until the 16th (Ash Wednesday). That being said, the party tends to start earlier, and last longer, with the Champion’s Parade taking place the following Saturday.
Whichever direction you look, there is a party. If you want the formal Carnival experience, get carnival tickets to the samba school parade at the Sambadromo. You can watch the second tier samba schools parade on the first two nights of carnival, but the real show is on Sunday and Monday night as the top samba schools parade.
If you have some cash to spend, and are looking for a spectacular evening of elaborate costumes, dancing and incredible venues, then get tickets to one of Rio’s Carnival Balls. The fanciest is the Magic Ball at Copacabana, but one of the most infamous balls is Rio Scala Nightclub’s Gay Costume Ball.
But the real party is out on the streets. Throughout carnival, there are street parades and blocos (block parties), day and night. These are free and you can just join in. Grab a map to the parties when you arrive (available just about everywhere), put on your dancing shoes and a funny costume, and get ready for the most epic party of your life!
Quick and Fast Tips
- Book early! Flights, accommodation and tickets sell out quickly as this is one of the hottest events in the world calendar
- Expect rain and heat. You don’t need much in the way of clothes, but a light poncho is a good idea for Rio’s frequent summer rains.
- Keep an eye on your possessions. Pickpockets take advantage of the crowds, so take only what you need, and try to keep some money in your bra / shoe / money bag.
- Banks are closed during carnival and ATMs often run out of money, so make sure you have enough cash on hand.
Did you like it? Book here and enjoy the city!