The most famous in the world carnival each year takes place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. And before we talk about it in details, let’s figure out the origin of this word. Thus, the word “carnival” comes from the Latin “carne vale”, meaning “farewell meat”. This holiday is preceding the Lent. Why the carnival in Rio is different from the carnivals which take place in other cities, such as Venice or Buenos Aires? The difference is the scale of the carnival in Rio. It is not just numerous street actions (though they take place in Rio as well), but also a major samba parade on a purpose-built parade area that can accommodate 88,500 spectators called the Sambodromo. The Sambódromo consists of a 700 metres (2,300 ft) stretch of Marquês de Sapucaí street.
Each samba schools each year must choose a theme of the parade (for example, deforestation, plastic surgery, glory in all its forms, etc.), whereby prepare a song and choreography. The number of participants from each of the samba school is 3.5-4 thousand people, so the performance of each samba school during the carnival parade takes approximately one hour. The parade lasts 4 days, from 9 p.m. until the morning. There is also a Parade of Champions and elections of the Year’s Champion. The following samba schools were often among the champions: Acadêmicos do Salgueiro (champion 2009), Unidos da Tijuca (chempions in 2010, 2012, 2014), Vila Isabel (2013), Mangueira (2016). The average budget of the carnival is millions of dollars, however, they return money to Rio by tourists. During the carnival all hotels are booked. People from around the World wish once to take part in this spectacular show at least once in their life.
The territory of the Sambodromo is divided into 13 sectors. Top sectors are 4-11. The 12th and 13-th sectors are located at the end of the parade and are the cheapest ones. It is easy to buy the entry ticket from locals right in front of the Sambodromo. We took advantage of this opportunity and purchased tickets for an average of USD 30-40; instead of USD 250, the price you can buy the cheapest tickets from Ukraine through local tour operators. Incidentally, there is no big difference between Sector 9 and 13, except that 9 Sector is a tourism sector, and the 13 Sector is predominantly for locals. You will enjoy the flavor of the carnival, watching the locals rejoice carnival as do the people who created this culture. There are no seats, but there are big steps, which you can sit down when you get tired after dancing all the night long. You can buy chilled drinks, snacks and ice cream. Speaking about ice cream, açaí [aˌsaˈi] berry is very popular in Brazil. So we strongly recommend to try asai flavor ice cream and asai drinks.
You can reach the sambadromo both by taxi or the subway which is quite convenient and comfortable in Rio. From Copacabana Beach and Avenida Atlantico, you can take the station Cardeal Arcoverde, Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro and get to Praça Onze. Despite warnings that the city nightlife is rather dangerous and tourists should not use public transport, we did not feel any danger walking the city, withdraw money using ATMs on small streets, talking with locals.
Preparation for the next carnival begins immediately after the previous one. The fact is that under the rules of the Special Commission, costumes and platforms cannot be repeated. Thus, a samba school has one year for choreography, music, organizing thousands of people, preparation of tens thousands of costumes and huge platforms.
In spite of the carnival, Rio de Janeiro, which literally means “January River” also has something to surprise you: gorgeous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, Red Beach, the statue of Christ the Redeemer, located at the top of the 710-meter Corcovado mountain in national park – Tijuca forest, Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar). Each of these places is worth your attention, so go to Rio for minimum 2 weeks. These days are enough to explore the city and its famous places, enjoy fun carnival on the sambadromo, to participate in numerous street actions, and be sure to leave few days on lazy holidays on the famous beaches.