Although Carnival is celebrated in many places, Rio de Janeiro has long been regarded as the Carnival Capital of the world. Go once and you might just want to come back every year! Here are Ker & Downey’s top tips for experiencing Carnival in Rio: the world’s flashiest party.

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro - Luxury Brazil Travel - Ker & Downey

Plan Ahead

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro will take place from March 1 through March 9 in 2019, but some people celebrate it during the whole week or even the entire month. Five days is an ideal length of stay for first-time visitors. It’s just enough time to celebrate and visit a couple of Rio’s main attractions.

The celebrations are especially ideal for travelers who enjoy the party atmosphere, the hot summer weather, and urban beach paradises. Ker & Downey makes it easy to arrange travel for groups of friends wanting to fly south for the festivities.

Attend The Samba Parade

The Samba Parade is undoubtedly Carnival’s biggest attraction. Preparation for the Samba Parade starts months in advance, as 12 different samba schools mobilize thousands of supporters, choreograph dances, create elaborate floats, and write a song as part of the school’s display. Rehearsals begin as early as December, and each school’s annual samba song is recorded and released to the record shops before Christmas.

Rio’s Sambódromo is the “stadium” of samba. Inaugurated in 1984, it consists of the Parading Avenue (the samba runway) and several independent concrete structures for the spectators (the bleachers) along both sides of the Parading Avenue.

Unlike Street Carnival, the Samba Parade is not free but is well worth the expense. The parade starts at 9 p.m. and goes until dawn the next day. This samba marathon is more than a show: it’s also a fierce competition and a huge entertainment spectacle.

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro - Luxury Brazil Travel - Ker & Downey

There are several ways to enjoy the Samba Parade:

Camarote Party
Also known as Camarote VIP, this area is organized as a night club. The space occupies three floors of indoor and outdoor viewing and partying. Up to 900 people join this camarote, and all food and drink is included.

Front Boxes
Also known as Frisas, these open boxes offer the best value. There are four rows of Frisas, and each box sits six people along with a coffee table. Rows A and B are closer to the runway, and rows C and D offer a wider view of the spectacle.

Parade with a Samba School
This is the real adventure and a matchless experience. Parade in costume to the heartbreaking beats of samba on the biggest stage in the world. People who watch the parade say it is a once in a lifetime event; people who parade in it want to do it every year.

Take in Other Carnival Experiences

Attending Carnival in Rio de Janeiro includes festivities far beyond the Samba Parade. Consider a few more VIP opportunities to enhance your Carnival experience:

Carnival Balls
Hundreds of balls happen all over the city during Carnival. The most traditional and popular balls are at the Scala and Mangueira Samba School. The Copacabana Palace Ball and The Sofitel Bal Masqué are hands down the city’s most glamorous.

Street Carnival
Each neighborhood in Rio has its favorite “Bandas” or “Blocos” – an orchestra marching along a pre-determined route, followed by hordes of enthusiastic samba dancers. They may come dressed in costumes, bathing suits, plain clothes, special T-shirts, or even in drag. It’s free, spontaneous, and everybody’s welcome to participate!

Behind the Scenes Tour
Take a tour inside a samba school’s shed to see their treasure trove of Carnival garb and gear. It all starts with a quick reception alongside a samba and Carnival history class. Eventually you will try on an array of costumes before learning rhythm and dance moves with a cast of charismatic characters. Afterwards taste caipirinha drinks, and finish the day with a percussion class led by samba specialists.

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro - Luxury Brazil Travel - Ker & Downey

Where to Stay

Rio de Janeiro is filled with plenty of high-end accommodation options – your Ker & Downey expert will help you choose the right neighborhood based on your interest. Ipanema and Leblon are close to the best restaurants and shops in town, and the Sofitel Ipanema and Fasano are great options. World-famous Copacabana Beach is a hub of classic Rio scenery where you’ll find world-class accommodations such as Belmond Copacabana Palace, Windsor Miramar, and Hotel Emiliano.

Contact a Ker & Downey travel designer to begin planning your trip to Carnival in Rio de Janeiro.