Rio Carnival

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Rio Carnival
Carnival in Rio de Janeiro.jpg
A float at Rio Carnival, 2006
Genre Samba, Marchinhas, Pop, Rock, and others.
Location(s) Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is a world famous festival held before Lent every year and considered the biggest carnival in the world with two million people per day on the streets. The first festivals of Rio date back to 1723.[1]

The typical Rio carnival parade is filled with revelers, floats and adornments from numerous samba schools which are located in Rio (more than 200 approximately, divided into 5 leagues/ divisions). A samba school is composed of a collaboration of local neighbours that want to attend carnival together, with some kind of regional, geographical common background.

There is a special order that every school has to follow with their parade entries. Each school begins with the "comissão de frente" ("Front Commission" in English), that is the group of people from the school that appear first. Made of ten to fifteen people, the "comissão de frente" introduces the school and sets the mood and style of their presentation. These people have choreographed dances in fancy costumes that usually tell a short story. Following the "comissão de frente" is the first float of the samba school, called "abre-alas" ( "Opening Wing" in English ). These are followed by the Mestre-sala and Porta-Bandeira (Room Master and Flag Carrier), with one to 4 pairs, one active and 3 reserve, to lead the dancers, which include the old guard veterans and the "ala das baianas", with the bateria at the rear and sometimes a brass section and guitars.

Street carnival[edit]

As the parade is taking place in the Sambadrome and the balls are being held in the Copacabana Palace and beach, many carnival participants are at other locations. Street festivals are very common during carnival and are highly populated by the locals.[2] Elegance and extravagance are usually left behind, but music and dancing are still extremely common. Anyone is allowed to participate in the street festivals. Bandas and blocos are very familiar with the street carnival especially because it takes nothing to join in on the fun except to jump in. One of the most well known bandas of Rio is Banda de Ipanema. Banda de Ipanema was first created in 1965 and is known as Rio’s most irreverent street band.[3]

Incorporated into every aspect of the Rio carnival are dancing and music. The most famous dance is carnival samba, a Brazilian dance with African influences. The samba remains a popular dance not only in carnival but in the ghettos outside of the main cities. These villages keep alive the historical aspect of the dance without the influence of the western cultures.[4]

Music is another major aspect of all parts of carnival. As stated by Samba City, “Samba Carnival Instruments are an important part of Brazil and the Rio de Janeiro carnival, sending out the irresistible beats and rhythms making the crowd explode in a colourful dance revolution fantasy fest!”[5] The samba that is found in Rio is batucada, referring to the dance and music being based on percussion instruments. It “is born of a rhythmic necessity that it allows you to sing, to dance, and to parade at the same time.”[6] This is why the batucada style is found in most all of Rio’s street carnivals.

Street parades, blocos and bandas take place throughout the city of Rio during Carnival, the most famous and largest carnival celebration of the world. [7]There can be more than 300 bandas taking place at any given point in time. While the biggest street party takes place right outside the Sambadrome, the largest organized street dance is typically found on Cinelândia Square in Rio’s Centro. In 2012, more than 2 million revelers took to the streets of Rio de Janeiro to participate in the Cordão da Bola Preta bloco. According to police estimates, more than 5 million people attended a bloco during Rio Carnival 2012 and there was not one reported incident of crime.[8] When the Sambadrome was built in 1984, it had the side-effect of taking street parades from the downtown area to a specific, ticketed performance area. Some samba schools have since been motivated by an agenda that focuses on regaining public space, and using the carnival tradition to occupy the streets with parades or blocos. Many of these represent a local community of the area but are open to all.[9]

A typical "Samba Queen".

Carnival dates[edit]

The Carnival begins on Friday and ends on Ash Wednesday, but the Winners' Parade happens on the Saturday after the carnival ends.[10]

  • February 28 to March 4, 2014
  • February 13 to February 17, 2015
  • February 6 to February 10, 2016
  • February 24 to March 1, 2017
  • February 9 to February 14, 2018
  • March 1 to March 6, 2019
  • February 21 to February 26, 2020
  • February 12 to February 17, 2021

Rio Carnival tickets[edit]

Sambadrome sectors diagram

In 1984 the government decided to give Rio Carnival its new home in the Sambadrome.[11] Today, some of the most famous events of Rio Carnival are ticketed events. There are different types of Sambadrome tickets that are available for purchase. Grandstand tickets are general admissions tickets that are available on a first-come, first-served basis and are not allocated ahead of time. Frisas are open air box seats located along the samba runway. Camarotes are luxury boxes situated between the frisas and the grandstands. Sector 9 is the tourist sector which are the same as grandstand tickets, with the difference being that they are allocated so people have assigned seats.[12]

Carnival ticket prices can vary from US$55 to US$3000,[13] depending on the ticket type, sector and season. The cheapest sectors are 12 and 13.[14] Tickets can be bought in advance through international brokers, or through local travel agents in Rio de Janeiro. 'Purchase of a ticket' normally means purchase of a voucher which is then exchangeable for the ticket close to the date. Ticket sales are organised by LIESA, who will often also make tickets available at late notice via a venue (often a bank) announced the day before. LIESA prices for grandstand tickets vary from Rs5 to Rs500 for the Tourist Sector (2014 prices).[15] LIESA publish the base price of the tickets, and agents and brokers charge more (sometimes significantly more) but offer considerable convenience and other benefits.

Corte real[edit]

King Momo[edit]

Queens of Carnival[edit]

The Queen of the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro and up to 2 princesses having the duty to woo the revelry, along with the King Momo. Unlike some cities, in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Queens of Carnival do not see a certain school of samba. In competitions, princesses are usually placed as second and third, and are correspondingly 1st and 2nd Princess. Some of them after the reign become queens or battery bridesmaids.

Samba Parade in the Sambódromo (Sambadrome).


  1. ^ Virtual-Brazil, Brazil Tourism: Rio de Janeiro Carnival History, 2010.
  2. ^ Pagnoncelli, Eduardo,, Sounds and Colours, March 2, 2011
  3. ^ Ipanema, Banda,, April 1, 2007.
  4. ^ Shanachie Entertainment Corp, The Spirit of Samba: Black Music of Brazil, VHS, 1990, April 1, 2007.
  5. ^ Samba City, Samba Instruments, April 1, 2007.
  6. ^ Samba City, Samba Carnival Instruments,, April 1, 2007.
  7. ^ "Top 10 Carnivals Around The World". 30 January 2015. 
  8. ^ "Rio Carnival Street Parties". 
  9. ^ Jaguaribe B, Images of the crowd: carnival and media Accessed 13 May 2014.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "About Sambadrome". 
  12. ^ "Rio Carnival Tickets Guide". 
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ Accessed 13 May 2014. Rs500 = approx. US$250
  16. ^ "Rei Momo magro inicia reinado no Rio de Janeiro" (in Portuguese). 2004-02-20. Retrieved 2013-09-19. 
  17. ^ a b "Ana Paula Evangelista:samba International" (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2013-09-19. 
  18. ^ "Alex is the King Momo for the eighth time and Queen is bi" (in Portuguese). 2005-12-02. Retrieved 2013-11-19. 
  19. ^ "'Lord of Misrule' kicks off Brazil's Rio carnival". 9:56. 2005-02-05. Retrieved 2013-11-19. 
  20. ^ "KNOW THE NEW RIVER MOMO KING AND QUEEN CARNIVAL 2007" (in Portuguese). 2006-11-11. Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  21. ^ "Rio already has Rei Momo and new Carnival Queen" (in Portuguese). 2007-10-27. Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  22. ^ "Rio knows the new King Momo and Queen of Carnival 2009" (in Portuguese). 2008-09-29. Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  23. ^ "Rio chooses princesses and Queen of Carnival 2010" (in Portuguese). 2009-10-12. Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  24. ^ "After withdrawal of another princess, Rio features new cutting Carnival" (in Portuguese). 2011-01-18. Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  25. ^ "Of tambourine in hand, dancer is elected Queen of Rio's Carnival 2012" (in Portuguese). 2011-11-11. Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  26. ^ "King Momo and Queen of Carnival 2013 is elected at the Samba City" (in Portuguese). 2012-11-04. Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  27. ^ "Meet the king momo, queen and princesses of Carnival 2013" (in Portuguese). 2012-11-04. Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  28. ^ "Carnival 2014 already has its Official Court" (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2013-11-09. 
  29. ^ "Queen and King Momo the 2014 Rio Carnival are elected" (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2013-11-09. 
  30. ^ "' Ecstatic ' Rio 2014 Carnival Queen celebrates coronation" (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2013-11-09. 
  31. ^ "King Momo and Carnival Queen are elected in Rio" (in Portuguese). 2014-11-15. Retrieved 2014-11-23. 
  32. ^ "Rio de Janeiro choose your new Court of King and Queen of Carnival 2015" (in Portuguese). 2014-11-15. Retrieved 2014-11-23. 

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