Rio de Janeiro in full glory

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This week the carnival in Rio de Janeiro is in full glory.

The main events take place on the stadium/Sambadrome street.

The street has grandstands on both sides and was built to provide a better view of the parades. Until the end of 1980s, the parades took place in the city. Sambadrome is where samba schools that have been preparing their act for a whole year parade.

The best and most spectacular performance brings a victory that is more valuable than anything else. The winning samba school can boast its success for a year. The schools are mainly neighborhood ones, with neighbors themselves preparing the choreography and music, and making their own costumes. There are several thousand people participating in the preparations of each school at different stages. Quite often the poor participants will give their last money for the glittery costumes. Each performance has a theme, special music, unique costumes and decorated floats. There are three to five thousand people participating in the performance of each school, and eight decorated floats. Nudity is not allowed, but on the floats you can often see the most beautiful dancers, topless and covered with feathers, sequins and colors.

The tickets are quite expensive…

so they are bought either by the Brazilian elite or by wealthy tourists. One ticket, depending on the seat and the stand, can set you back from a hundred dollars up to 1,500 for a seat in the boxes. If you wish to buy a ticket, you can do it online. The best sectors are 4 to 9.

The best schools perform divided into leagues. The first league (12 schools) performs on Sunday and Monday, February 26 and 27. The program starts at 10 p.m and goes on until 5 a.m. Each school has equal time for its performance. The champions’ parade is on Saturday, March 4, also beginning at 10 p.m. The champion comes on at 3:25 a.m. The competition and performance system is very precisely elaborated, resembling a soccer championship. The carnival has a king – Momo, queen and princesses selected among the most beautiful participants, as well as flag bearers, musicians (bateria), singers, dancers, and, not the least, a drum queen.  

The carnival in Rio de Janeiro is actually not a masked procession that we know in Europe.

The event is unique globally and as the Cariocas, citizens of Rio, say, everyone should experience it at least once. It is broadcast in several countries, but mingling among the locals is still a special experience. The parades can sooner be seen as tropical operas than as processions of revelers.

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