One of the biggest crowd pullers for the Cidade Maravilhosa of Rio de Janeiro is its annual Carnival and Mardi Gras celebrations, attracting over 500,000 foreign tourists each year. During the four day carnival period the already lively city of Rio takes partying to an all new level with city wide celebrations. Ironically, it’s the storm before the lull as everyone goes on a binge two weeks before the start of lent. The carnival will take place between March 4th and March 8th in 2011 and between February 17th and February 21st in 2012. While many fly down to Rio from far and wide especially to experience this mega event, the Carnival period may not be the best time to visit the city if you’re in search of a quiet, scenic vacation away from the maddening crowds. For crowds is exactly what the carnival is known for… hordes of merry revelers indulging in music, dance, food and drink on an unprecedented scale! The four-day festivities end with Mardi Gras celebrations on Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday.
The carnival has come a long way since it started in the 1830s. Today it
is reflective of the Brazilian culture, complete with elaborate
costumes, gala balls and colorful floats. Of course, no Brazilian party
can be devoid of Samba, so not surprisingly, the carnival mega event is
the Samba School Parade at the Sambadromo with over 60,000 participants
and 14 top samba schools. As you can imagine, prices soar during the
carnival period and it is advisable to book your air tickets and hotel
room much in advance to avoid paying exorbitant season rates. Also
carnival tickets tend to sell out closer to event dates and should
ideally be booked before hand as well. When the time comes, put on your
dancing shoes and don’t forget to pack your samba costume!