Held at the peak of the Brazilian summer the Carnival is Rio de Janeiro’s main event. A million tourists join millions of Rio de Janeiro citizens in revelry over a 4-day celebration. It begins on a Saturday and ends on Fat Tuesday, the day before the beginning of the Christian period of Lent, Ash Wednesday.
The Sambodromo (Samba Parade) is the highlight of the carnival. Many people call it “the greatest show on earth”. The parade is broadcast in many countries and all Brazilian states. The main attraction is the sounds and sights of the parading samba schools that continue till daybreak. Only the 14 best samba schools are selected to parade through the Sambodromo. Each samba school has an elaborately decorated float, often accompanied by sensuous females vibrating to the hypnotic music. The floats are accompanied by marching samba bands of up to 300 musicians surrounded by female dancers.
Attend various street carnivals that are held all over the city. It was founded in 1964 and is now listed as part of the city’s cultural heritage, attracting as many as fifteen thousand people. Banda de Ipanemais is one of the most traditional street carnivals.
Carnival balls are also offered in Rio. The Masquerade balls are celebrity-attended affairs where merrymakers wear designer costumes and party into the wee hours. The most famous ball is held at the Copacabana Palace Hotel. A typical Carnival Ball features live music. Bands take turns playing on stage, often accompanied by a guest vocalist.
Brazilian carnival traditions and African dance, music and costume history have some similarities. Africans used feathers on masks as a symbol of their ability as humans to rise above problems and grow spiritually. Feathers are often used in today’s Brazil Carnival dance costumes.
Most tourists plan their Brazillian vacation around the Carnival dates, as it is considered a very delightful and unforgettable experience.