Rio Carnival Tours & Trips
Attracting revellers from across the globe, Rio Carnival is considered by many to be the greatest party on earth. Carnival festivities create a euphoric atmosphere, giving attendees the chance to let go of their inhibitions and let their true colours shine. Travellers from all over the world come together to dance, sing, and party the night away in one of the world’s most vibrant cities.
The Highlights of Rio Carnival
Carnival hosts several balls that are worth attending which cost between €130 and €260. One of the most popular events is the Gay Ball, attracting a colourful crowd donning outrageous outfits. Rio Scala hosts two fantastic balls: Clube dos Caiçaras and Hard Rock Cafe's Kid's Party. Another popular ball for the elites is the Magic Ball at Copacabana. If you are interested in attending, be ready to fork out a considerable amount of cash, as those who can afford it may find themselves mingling with Rio’s elite.
Rio has become world famous for its vibrant Samba Parade competitions, held in the Sambodromo stadium in the Santo Cristo suburb. The stadium was custom-built for the primary purpose of hosting Carnival parades, and the Samba Schools in the First League are the most spectacular of the parades. Other notable parades include the Champions’ Parade and the Children’s Samba Schools. Expect the Sambodromo to be packed to capacity as the spectacular parade unfolds on the open air runway.
Bloco street parties are arguably the most exciting part of Carnival. Blocos can be found all over Rio, and are organized by various carnival organizations and neighbourhoods—all with their own individual flair. At these parties, people walk and dance around the block following floats playing either live or recorded music. Each bloco has a specific theme and is teeming with street food. If you want to party in true Carnival style, make sure you wear a costume and comfortable shoes.
Rio boasts over 300 Carnival street bands that can be heard in every corner of Rio. These bands consist of predominantly brass orchestras that march along planned routes while others stay in place. Where the bands are playing, expect to see hoards of partygoers in costumes, bathing suits or elaborate drag costumes. The most famous Carnival bands are: Cordão do Bola Preta (downtown), Banda de Ipanema (Ipanema), Sovaco do Cristo (Botanic Garden District) and the Carmelitas (Santa Teresa).
Afterparty in Belmonte Bar
After the sun goes down, most of the blocos end. One of the best places to keep the party going is at Belmonte Bar in Leblon, and here you will find party-goers gathered around the bar. Oftentimes you can enjoy street artists playing their instruments, keeping the party vibe going all night long.
Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon
One of the most vibrant, and exciting areas to stay at during Carnival is Zona Sul (Southern Rio). This is a modern part of town and located directly on the sea. Some of the most popular beaches are located in this neighbourhood including Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon, and you will find Carnival celebrations in literally every corner of the area.
Popular Rio Carnival tour packages
Rio Carnival on a Budget
5 days from $1,079 $723
Rio Carnival City Experience
6 days from $1,849 $1,498
- Find yourself in the heart of Rio's buzzing atmosphere
- Participate at the best street parties and blocos
- Get a ticket to the famous Sambadrome parade
- Tour to Brazil's largest favela, Rocinha
Buenos Aires to Rio Carnival
11 days from $3,499 $3,044
Ultimate South America Overland with Carnival
191 days from $16,055 $15,745
Rio Carnival Facts
How long does Rio Carnival last?
This vibrant 5-day celebration takes place 40 days before Easter, officially beginning on Friday and ending on Fat Tuesday which marks the beginning of Lent. Even though Carnival is celebrated in cities and villages across Brazil and in other Catholic countries, Rio de Janeiro has long been hailed as the Carnival capital of the world.
What is the history of Rio Carnival?
The Carnival roots run deep, incorporating aspects from various cultures. The original festivities date back to ancient Greeks and Romans celebrating the onset of spring, and Carnival was originally brought from Europe to Brazil by the Portuguese back in 1850. The ball and masquerade rituals were acquired from the French, and other unique elements were derived from Amerindian and African culture.
Where can I stay during Rio Carnival?
It is important to book accommodations for Carnival well in advance, as the best accommodation options will sell out fast. The neighbourhood around the Sambodromo stadium is not overly accommodating for tourists, so avoid booking your accommodation based on proximity to this event. Instead, it is best to do some research on which blocos you want to attend, and book accordingly. It is also wise to book near a metro station so you can easily access the many events around town.
How can I get to Rio Carnival?
Galeão International Airport is Brazil’s largest international airport and is located 20km north of the city centre. The domestic Santos Dumont Airport by Guanabara Bay is next to the city centre, and it offers flights to and from Brazil’s major cities. From the international airport, there are many options for getting to the city centre including bus, taxi and private transfer services.
Is Rio Carnival safe?
Yes, Carnival is safe to experience, but like all great festivals and parties around the world, there are a few precautions that travellers should take in order to stay safe. Pickpockets will be active during the festival so it's best to keep your valuables hidden underneath your clothes and to carry limited amounts of cash on you. If you find yourself in a dangerous situation, just hand over your wallet as it’s not worth the risk to your safety.
Why is Rio Carnival celebrated?
Long ago, Carnival originated as a traditional Catholic event tied in with historic elements, and today the festival has evolved into the world’s largest (and most exciting) outdoor party and celebrates Brazilian culture. The religious element may not be as present anymore but the performances by the samba schools often reflect stories that highlight certain periods in Brazil’s history, culture and unique traditions.
Essentials for Rio Carnival
- Book flights and accommodation as early as possible
- Book events that require tickets well in advance (Samba Parades, Carnival Balls)
- Don’t be shy, dance! If you don’t know the samba, no sweat, just move your feet
- Get in the spirit and dress in costume
- February in Brazil can be scorching, dress accordingly and don’t forget to lather on the sunscreen
- Keep your valuables out of sight and leave your expensive jewellery at home
- Learn the lyrics to some of Brazil’s most popular Carnival songs
- After long days and nights of partying, rejuvenate on Rio’s gorgeous beaches