You are invited to join the biggest party on the planet that begins a week before Ash Wednesday. While the celebrations begin as early as December, the official Rio Carnival Program commences from Friday February 21st, 2020. The Carnival begins once King Momo receives the key to the city from the Mayor of Rio. This is the time to vacation in Rio where street parties, the samba parade at the Sambodromo, and Carnival balls are the events to experience if you want the very best of Brazilian culture.
When it comes to rhythm and music there are not many who can match the Brazilians. Samba is in their blood and the talented and vivacious samba dancers that sway to the beats of the intoxicating sounds of the caixa drums are the center of attraction at the Sambodromo, and at every street party, and Carnival ball held throughout Rio de Janeiro.
The glitziest of celebrations in the Rio Carnival Program are heralded by King Momo, a Greek legendary character who represents Fat Tuesday. The ‘King’ is handed over the key to the city by the mayor, after which the party continues non-stop for five days and nights leading up to Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent. Over 400 street parades or ‘Blocos’ take place all over Rio, which are free street processions with samba orchestras and costumed dancers. Among the most popular is Banda de Ipanema that hosts one of the wildest parades and party along the beach on Carnival Tuesday.
On the Rio Carnival Program are several Carnival balls held at many venues throughout Rio. Of course, there are hundreds of impromptu parties that take place across the city and beyond. All eyes are on the Sambodromo where samba schools put up dazzling performances with the intention of becoming the top samba school for the year. Their keenness stems from the fact that they put in a year of hard work in preparation for their final showdown at the Sambodromo. If you happen to be in Rio before the Carnival you can have a sneak preview of what to expect on a visit to samba city, the place where samba schools have their headquarters.
The schools open their doors to visitors almost all through the year while the partying intensifies from December onwards. You can have a sneak preview of all the action during rehearsal nights where samba schools open their doors to the public. For tourists, this is a great way to learn the samba and experience carioca culture at its best. Each day of the Rio Carnival is action packed with many exciting and enthralling events to attend. True to Brazilian culture, you can expect to experience an enthralling and exciting time no matter where your Rio Carnival Program takes you.
13:00 hours– The amazing Carnival commences with an opening ceremony held in downtown Rio at Avenue Rio Branco. The city mayor crowns King Momo, a symbolic event that gives him the power of the city during the Carnival. Music and merriment erupts at various venues and on the streets, inviting everyone to dance the night away.
21:00 hours – Serious competition begins at the Sambodromo with samba schools from the Access Group on the first day of Access Group Parade competition. Tickets are reasonably priced for the event although you will get to watch eleven samba schools put in their best performances as the excitement builds up for the main competition on Carnival Sunday and Monday.
23:00 hours– The Cordao do Bola Preta Ball at the Scala Rio Nightclub in downtown Rio is the first in a series of rip-roaring entertainment programs. This event has some of the most famous samba musicians and dancers ringing in the Carnival that is dedicated to the bohemian street band, Bola Preta. The ball is usually populated by celebrities, cariocas, and tourists as well.
09:30 hours – The partying never does stop during the Carnival, which begins early in the morning on Carnival Saturday with the Cordao do Bola Preta street party. Downtown Rio wakes up to the mesmerizing beats of the samba drums as the parade moves through the famous downtown location with a large number of fans joining in the revelry. If you are game to awaking early on a Saturday morning then make sure you add this event to your Rio Carnival Program.
16:00 hours – Banda de Ipanema is the most popular bloco or street parade that provides revelers with non-stop entertainment. Gay or straight, locals or visitors, everyone is welcome to join in the parade that provides nonstop fun and entertainment and the opportunity to see some of the most colorful and fascinating costumes.
20:00 hours – You can witness the most popular samba bands perform at their best at Avenue Rio Branco in downtown Rio. It doesn’t take long for the crowds to join in the dancing and singing throughout the night.
21:00 hours – Second day of Access Group competing for the top spot and a place in the Special Group for the next year’s competition.
23:00 hours – The rich and famous and everyone who desires to spend an extravagant night head to the Copacabana Palace Hotel for the Magic Ball. Budget permitting, the Magic Ball is one of the most entertaining and flamboyant events that ought to be on your Rio Carnival Program. The best samba bands and dancers entertain the crowds until the wee hours of Sunday morning.
23:00 hours – The Scala dedicates the Mangueira Ball to the oldest samba school in Rio, Estacao Primeira de Mangueira that keeps revelers on their feet throughout the night. The event is well attended with the best drummers, dancers, and flag bearers from the samba school providing some great entertainment.
On your Rio Carnival Program, make it a point to attend a few street parties that continue throughout the day and night.
17:00 hours – Simpatia é Quase Amor is among the most popular street parties that are worth experiencing. The party is an excellent alternative to Banda de Ipanema if you are looking for family entertainment. The main participants will continue to sport the lilac and yellow colors during the 2020 Rio Carnival.
21:00 hours – No Rio Carnival Program can be complete without a visit to the Sambodromo on Carnival Sunday. The toughest of competitions combined with the spirit of camaraderie begins as the first in the top six samba schools in the Special Group perform in front of the judges, over 80,000 spectators, and millions of TV sets around the globe in a bid to grab the Champion of Champions title.
23:00 hours – The City Ball at the Scala attracts plenty of cariocas who gather to pay tribute to Rio and its incredible people that represent a potpourri of cultures.
21:00 hours – The competition continues with the most electrifying entertainment at the Sambodromo with the next 6 samba schools from the Special Group setting the stadium alight in a blaze of colors. The sounds of the samba drums continue to intoxicate the thousands of spectators once more, keeping them on their feet all night.
23:00 – Free beer flows through the night at the Scala. The Baile da Boa or Ball of the Beers is an event you may not want to miss. There are plenty of live bands providing entertainment all night long as the spirits continue to flow.
16:00 hours – Banda de Ipanema puts on one final, electrifying party that brings an end to the Carnival celebrations. This is a great chance to catch up with the street band if you were busy at other events earlier in the week.
19:00 – Watch kids from the samba schools in action as they put up a grand show of their own at the Sambodromo. The Children’s parade marks the end of five days of competition at the stadium. Tickets for the show are inexpensive compared to other days although the performances by the young ones can be as entertaining as the adults. This a great occasion for some family entertainment.
23:00 hours – The Scala in downtown Rio hosts the renowned Gay Costume Ball, welcoming thousands of members of the alternative society to join in a night of wild revelry. Leave your inhibitions at home if you want to enjoy this bash where you are guaranteed to see the most flamboyant and outlandish costumes worn by drag queens and transvestites who have made this event the top of their Rio Carnival Program.