Carnival in Rio
by: Jason Blynn
Considered one of the most awe-inspiring and grandiose spectacles in all the world, Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, the marvelous city, is a feast for the eyes as well as the ears. For five days, the 14 samba schools (escolas de samba) parade through the famous sambadrome in quest to be the best samba school for that year. Besides being a spectacular display of costume, color, and dance, the percussion coming from the thousands of people playing in each school’s battery literally lifts spectators out of the seats. It is during Carnival that the powerful and beautifully seductive rhythm of Brazil truly manifests itself. Samba is the soul of Brazil.
Carnival in Rio dates back to about 1723, which is the earliest record to be found. Immigrants from the Azores and Cabo Verde introduced the first festivities, which were mainly intended to get people wet. People reveled in the streets, tossing buckets of water and limes at anyone they saw, even emperors. This activity was called an entrudo, intended to purify the body. As time went on people began to dress up, parade, dance, and play music for all to hear. At the beginning of the 19th century, the parades began to take on a more central role in the festivities, and with the sponsorship of a brewery called Hanseática, each parade group (called “ranchos” then) began to organize competitions from year to year. After a brief hiatus during World War II, the parades kept getting larger and more grandiose as the years went by. In the eighties, the sambodromo was built to fit 70,000 spectators and provide for a more organized procession of the schools.
Nowadays, a typical samba school will spend two-thirds of the calendar year preparing for Carnival, for which each school performs one song. Besides having thousands of dancers, percussionists, musicians, and singers, each school also has a team of songwriters who work and compete with each other to compose the best song possible: the one that will bring the school victory. The competition is fierce within the team of composers. Whoever wins is sure to receive much acclaim and fame that year, as his song will be released on the year’s Sambas de Enredo CD, a recording with all the 14 schools’ songs that is released shortly before the arrival of Carnival and is always immensely popular. A typical school will easily spend 1 million dollars a year on Carnival.
DiscoverBrazil offers three separate Carnival packages, each one with a different hotel option. Each package includes all transfers, tours, and breakfasts listed. A city tour is also included, with stops at Corcovado, Tijuca Forest, Sugar Loaf, and other Rio hot spots.
- 5 nights at the Caesar Park Hotel (from February 03th to 08th, 2005). This world class hotel is wonderfully located right on the famous Ipanema beach, and is walking distance from restaurants, bars, boutiques, shopping centers, nightclubs, and cinemas.
- 5 nights at the Miramar Palace Hotel (from February 04th to 09th, 2005). Situated right on Copacabana beach, Rio de Janeiro is literary at your feet when you stay at this traditional and elegant hotel.
- 5 nights at the glamorous Copacabana Palace Hotel (from February 04th to 09th, 2005). The Copacabana Palace is among the greatest hotels in the world. Perfectly located right on the famous Copacabana beach, this Brazil landmark will make your stay in “The Marvelous City” a memorable one.
Tickets to the Sambodromo are optional. Flights are not included, but if you are interested in quotes for international or domestic flights, please contact one of our travel agents. Price quoted is based on double occupancy.
For more information and price quotes, contact one of our expert travel consultants:
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About The Author
Jason is a recent graduate of Amherst College, where he received a degree in Music and Political Science. He is currently living in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, working for Discover Brazil and enjoying the wonderful music and culture Bahia and the rest of Brazil have to offer.