Every February and early March, the world’s largest party takes place on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Sure—Carnaval is celebrated in ports and cities all around the globe, but none have the flare, color, or passion of the massive festival in Rio. At the Cidade do Samba in the city’s port district, visitors will find that the Carnaval sprit isn’t just for a week—but actually lasts the entire year inside enormous, float-filled warehouses. Sometimes known as “Samba City,” this colorful complex is where 14 of the city’s top samba schools all plan, prepare, and prep their floats for the festive February event.
When taking a tour of Samba City, watch as costumes and next year’s floats are all sewn and patched together. No photos or videos are allowed—lest you leak their surprise—but samba lessons are often included as part of the upbeat tour. On Thursday evenings, the entire complex erupts in a type of mini celebration, where costumes are donned, music is played, and a micro-version of Carnaval takes place right there on site.
Tours are offered from Wednesday-Sunday, with the evening performance taking place on Thursdays at approximately pm. Admission to Cidade do Sambo is approximately $10 for the regular tour, and approximately $40 for the evening show full of costumes, music, and dancing.