Cariocas never believe in doing things half measure and the same holds true during the Carnival where samba schools and thousands of their supporters turn the Rio Sambadrome into a cauldron of electrifying entertainment watched in amazement by 80,000 spectators at the venue and millions of others on television sets around the globe. The festival of pomp and circumstance reaches its climax and Carnival Sunday and Monday when the top 13 samba schools take center stage at the Sambadromo in a bid to become champions of the samba for a year. The thousands of participants do justice to the stadium designed by renowned architect, Oscar Niemeyer, and built in a record 110 days in 1984.
The Rio Sambadrome is the place to experience the true spirit of the Carnival and carioca culture where elaborate curve-hugging costumes, stilettos, gyrating dancers, and energetic samba drummers seem to float by in the hundreds. However, these are only a few of the highs to be experienced at the Rio Sambadrome. The stadium has been renovated in time for the 2020 Rio Carnival with an additional seating to accommodate up to 80,000 spectators. The 700 meter runway, which is the focus of attention on Carnival nights, is now wider, allowing the samba schools more room to strut their stuff in front of the spectators and judges. Each school has 85 minutes to prove there are the champions of the samba as they move down the runway towards ‘Apotheosis Square’ or Prace da Apoteose, the place where they gather after the parade.
80,000 spectators head for the Sambadrome on all nights of the Carnival. Therefore, it is important to arrive early especially if you have grandstand seats. These are free seating arrangements in every sector except for Sector 9. You will want to grab a vantage point at the Rio Sambadrome so that you can view each parade in all its splendor. If you have reserved seats you can arrive at the stadium whenever you wish to. However, you won’t want to miss out on the opportunity to witness every samba school and their unique performances. The doors to the Rio Sambadrome open at 5 pm, so be there around 7 or 8 if you have grandstand tickets. Arriving at around 9 pm is fine if you have reserved seats. This first parade usually kicks off at 9 pm on Carnival Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Get tips about how to get to the Sambadrome.
Speaking of a dress code during the Rio Carnival is something unimaginable by any standards. While you have costumes bordering from the exotic to the most outrageous, summer time in Rio is when you will want to wear the least of clothing especially if you have grandstand tickets. Dress like the cariocas if you desire but don’t forget to carry towels and a raincoat if you desire. The summer heat can bring on a few showers although almost everyone drowns in the melody of the samba once the show begins at the Rio Sambadrome. Do not carry any glass bottles or inflammable material, which are not permitted inside the stadium. You can carry 2 plastic containers with water and as much snacks you desire. Many Carnival goers suggest that you bring your own picnic. However, there are plenty of fast food counters to grab a bite at when you are hungry. To take back fond memories of your trip to the Rio Sambadrome, make sure to bring along your digital camera. Video cameras are not allowed inside the stadium. Instead, a pair of binoculars is what you will need for a close up view of the parade. Carrying valuables is risky and is best avoided at all costs.
The new Rio Sambadrome includes an additional number of food stalls and washrooms for the convenience of spectators. There is an official taxi stand from where you can request for a taxi any time of the night. The stadium is also well equipped to handle spectators with special needs. This includes disabled-friendly washrooms and ramps at each sector. There is a souvenir shop where you can purchase a few mementos of your trip to the Carnival. A Carnival guide book is available at the stadium which contains the lyrics of the special Carnival song of each samba school so that you can sing along with them.
The camarotes or air-conditioned luxury suites are usually booked by a number of high profile celebrities, which is why security arrangements are even tighter in order to ensure the safety of the 80,000 spectators. Tickets for these suites include a buffet, open bar and a waiter in attendance. The organizers do an excellent job of ensuring that the all the events at the Rio Sambadrome are conducted without any untoward incidents.
The Rio Sambadrome is used for various events during other parts of the year. The venue plays host to live concerts by renowned national and international artists. Over the years legendary guitarists including Carlos Santana, Stanley Jordan, and Bob Dylan have entertained audiences at the stadium. Other well known artists to grace the stage at the Rio Sambadrome include Black Eyed Peas, Avril Lavigne, James Blunt, and Radiohead.
If you desire to party with the cariocas then it is time to book your flight and carnival tickets. You have a choice of Sambadromo tickets ranging from the affordable grandstand seats to open boxes arranged in groups of 4 to 6 seats and luxury air-conditioned suites that are the most expensive seats for the samba parade. In addition, you have a choice of carnival balls and street parties to attend. Get ready for a hectic week of non-stop partying. February 2020 isn’t far away