Warming up for the greatest show on earth: Rio Carnival

No other carnival can be compared with the Rio Carnival, which is unquestionably the most interesting artistic event in the world. Over half a million international visitors head for the Rio Carnival every year for a four-day wild celebration before the beginning of Lent. The Carnival only runs for four days but the locals celebrate for at least a month. The week before the Carnival all the Street Parades begin and they continue on for a few weeks after the Sambadrome. Thousands of tourists flock to the city to enjoy the celebration and revel in the energy of the locals. There are grand balls spread throughout Rio and it is quite impossible not to have a wonderful time partying, dancing and singing.

Rehersals before carnival

Lights, Sound and Action

The Carnival has earned its reputation solely due to the creative talent and hard work of the samba schools, the very existence of the Rio Carnival. Almost an entire year’s work goes into planning and preparations for the world’s biggest event. Preparations include rehearsals for the Samba Parade which continues throughout the year at the samba schools, and as time draws near, at the Sambadrome.

Weeks before the final countdown

Rehearsals are almost like the samba parade on the big day without the costumes and floats. Buses are used instead of floats. However, the last few rehearsals leading up to the Carnival are almost as good as the final showdown. Rehearsals begin in December at the Sambadrome so you can catch up with quite a few on the weekends. These rehearsals are exciting and you can watch it free. It is a lovely way to warm up for the real party. A word of caution though – the grand stand sectors get pretty busy during this time. The cheapest way to celebrate the Carnival is to go the rehearsals. They are free for all spectators and it is a unique opportunity to experience the song and dance as well as the beat of the Bateria. For those staying in town for a few weeks before the Carnival starts, attending rehearsals can almost be considered mandatory. This is the perfect opportunity to interact with the local dancers, experience the energy of the music and learn what the Carnival is truly about.


Rehearsals at Samba Schools

For a close encounter with the samba, attending a rehearsal party at a samba school is the best thing to do. All schools hold rehearsals at their facilities. You can join in the party with the very best of samba dancers and drummers that are sure to keep your feet stomping all night.

The first thing that tourists do is head for a couple of samba rehearsal parties that are held practically most of the year. The easiest way to get to these schools is by cab. Mangueira and Salgueiro are some of the best schools to experience the powerful rhythms of the Carnival samba. Rehearsals at these schools begin in August and continue right through to the Carnival. Getting to one of the rehearsals is fairly easy. The samba schools Mangueira and Salgueiro are only 20 minutes away by cab from Zona Sul (South Zone). These rehearsals are one big party where professional dancers, celebrities, Cariocas and tourists all come together to dance, sing and share their love of the Samba.

Weeks before carnival, samba rehersals over the city