To Participate in Rio Parades : Get a Costume
Each school usually lasts about 60-80 minutes. It consists of several vehicles and sections of around 200 people each where everyone wears a certain costume. A few of these sections are open to everyone so you can buy yourself a costume and participate.
Me and my friends paraded with Alegria da Zona Sul, a second division school with their base in the favelas in Copacabana. Dressed in golden shoes and silky red and white clothes we all met outside the big samba stadium Sambódromo. Standing outside waiting to go in you could feel how everyones expectations were high, a whole year of practice and preparations had been building up to this moment.
Our drum section started, 250 man strong hammering away. We all started to sing the song we had been told to learn. Slowly our parade began and before we knew it we were in the stadium. Singing, dancing and smiling in front of tens of thousands of people we slowly made our way down the long parade street. More than 60 minutes later it was over. It was like an explosion of colour, music and explosion that was over, we went back home to our friends flat in Leblon.
What could I have done better is to learn a bit more about the history and traditions of the carnival parade, especially about the particular school I went with. I don´t think going in the cheaper Grupo de Acesso lessened our experience, I’ve actually heard that you are given much more freedom in these since the bigger schools are so competitive they control you more.
If interested with the article. You might want to read about rio carnival where to stay hostel.
And also the article about rio backpackers hostel.