Carnival in Rio

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Carnival in Rio


A school can have up to 4,000 participants, so melding the ensemble into an organic whole is no easy task. The preparation requires nearly a year of sewing, building, composing, choreographing, and rehearsing for the next Carnival in Rio.

Labor of love

Samba school participants pay for their own costumes, which cost some of them a sizable slice of their income. They willingly do this because Carnival in Rio is a fantasy escape, which helps them forget their hardscrabble lives.

Street processions

Some samba schools are not invited to partake in the Sambodromo parade. Many take to the streets during the Carnival in Rio. Some parade in their neighborhoods and downtown Rio.

Their festivities are free public affairs - passers-by may join the fun by dancing behind (and sometimes with) the group's samba dancers and marching bands. Here you directly participate while in the Sambodromo seats you mainly observe.

Masquerade balls

These are the Carnival of Rio's celebrity-attended affairs. The merrymakers wear designer costumes and party from before midnight to the wee hours. It's an exciting and energetic experience (but admission costs up to $200 and the ballrooms tend to be jam-packed). The ball at the Copacabana Palace Hotel is the most famous.

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