Are Brazil girls friendly during Carnaval in Rio?

How to approach Rio Girls at the Brazilian Carnival? 

Are girls and women friendly in Rio?   Many tourists come to Brazil and, in their imagination, everything is liberal.   That is a myth in the Brazilian Carnival.   Are the girls friendly?   This depends on the kind of woman you are looking for, the social economic class, the neighborhood, and circumstances.   Everything may be simple or “difficult” according to the setting, timing and environment.   Typically, girls in Brazil are open for a conversation, but that doesn’t mean they will fall for any small talk.   Women in Rio, more than in any city in Brazil, like to be pampered.   Their beauty and physique may lead to other impressions, but in reality they are hard to convince and would like some signs of minimal commitment before moving ahead.

The environment may also help you with some signs.   In the Street Bands, many of the partiers know each other, and the best approach is to start talking to everybody in a particular group.   If the girls are in costume, better since there is an excuse to start a conversation if any of the looks were reciprocal.   It is important to note that because of some problems Rio faced in the past with sexual tourism, foreigners were negatively shunned.   Many tourists fostered prostitution and the overall perception during carnival was all that all foreigners came here only with that in mind.   So the golden rule is to be courteous and educated, just like you would in your home town.  

To flirt in the Brazilian carnival can be one the most exciting and fun things to do in a lifetime, but prudence and observance of local rules are a must.   Another good piece of advice for those who like romance is to try to meet up/ join a group of locals.   This may help you get to know better the environment you are in, and true Cariocas too.   During the Rio Carnival Balls, things can get a little bit hotter and more liberal, but always make sure you are communicating appropriately to avoid getting in trouble.

Ballroom samba dance in Rio: Where, How to do dance & Practice Locations

Samba Dancing Practice Locations

Looking for a place to practice your samba dance routines?  In Rio, there are many places today where you can practice your samba dance routines during all year long.   The ideal solution is to practice in some of the specialized samba dance schools / gyms, so when carnival arrives you are all fit for true samba dancing.  In the list we provided below, you will find samba dance schools, as well as dance parlors, ballrooms and night-clubs where you can actually demonstrate your newly acquired samba dance talents.   These samba dance clubs are also open all year long and many of them are very traditional, like Nova Estudantina and Clube dos Democráticos, which exist for more than a century.

Dance Samba

Photo Credit: Falando De Dança Blog.   Photo Protected by law.

Brazilcarnival.com.br recommends the following samba dancing schools/ballroom dance schools in Rio de Janeiro.  The addresses of these samba academies and contact information were also provided.

Samba-Dancing Academies in Rio:

  • Carlinhos de Jesus House of Dance; located at Rua Álvaro Ramos, 11 – Botafogo District  ● Phone: 2541-6186
  • Jaime Aroxa Dance School ; located at Rua São Clemente, 155 – 2nd floor (entrance through the back)  Botafogo/RJ and Rua São Clemente, 41 - Botafogo/RJ ● Phones: 2286-0065 and 3563-4695 – Email: contato@jaimearoxa.com.br 
  • Centro Cultural Carioca Dance ; located at Rua do Teatro, 37 – Center, RJ ● Phone:  2252-6468 – and 2242-9642.  The nice thing about this Samba Dance School is that it is located within a true Cultural Center in a restored building constructed in the 20´s at the Tiradentes Square. The cultural center also presents excellent quality live-music venue at night. 
  • Maria Antonietta Guaycurus de Souza ; Definitely one of the most renowned samba routine dance professors in activity in Brazil.  She today conducts private samba-dance lessons (or for small groups) at the Estudantina´s  Ballroom, located at Praça Tiradentes, 79 every Friday. ● Phone: 2221-3183. 
  • Dance Academy Jimmy de Oliveira ; located at Rua do Catete 112, Catete- RJ ● Phone: 2285-6920.  Several samba lessons & fast track courses.  

 Uniao da Ilha Show Team

Below you can see the team of samba dancers from União da Ilha, that perform professional shows.

Photo Credit: Uniao da Ilha


Once you are ready to show your samba dance skills, there are several ballrooms called “gafieiras” in Rio where dance lovers meet to practice and meet new people.   Today Rio de Janeiro is living a new samba & saloon dance revival, so many new parlors where recently inaugurated.   One example of this phenomena motivated Carlinhos de Jesus, owner of a dance academy ( please see top of the list above),  to launch a 3 stories-high dancing and snooker facility called “Lapa 40 Graus” , in order to motivate new samba-dancing students and aficionados.

Many of these new samba houses are located at the Lapa / Center region in Rio.  Regarding the traditional gafieiras, like mentioned above, some of them have more than 130 years old, like Clube dos Democráticos,  was founded in 1867.   Please keep in mind that some of them have a specific dancing schedule/agenda.    Try to check their websites to see what day (s) of the week they focus specifically on samba-dancing.   Many of these gafieiras also present live music jams.  Follows below some of our recommendations for Dancing Ballrooms:

Samba-Dancing Ballrooms and Samba Parlors:

  • Clube dos Democráticos Samba House located at Rua do Riachuelo, 91 Lapa- Rio de Janeiro ● Phone: 2252-4611;  venue opens at  6:00 PM.
  • Rio Scenarium  Bar Samba Club  : Adress: Rua do Lavradio, 20 Center, Rio de Janeiro ● : Phone: 3147-9005 ; Opening Hours
  • Carioca da Gema Samba House; located at Rua Mem de Sá,  79 • Lapa • Rio de Janeiro • Phone: 2221-0043 . Opening Hours: Mon. - Friday : 6:00 PM; Sat. 9:00 PM, Holidays: 8pm;
  • Estudantina Samba House;  located  at Praça Tirandentes, 81  ● Phone: 2232-1149

Lastly, there is very good dancing websites we would like to recommend: called Falando de  Dança.  They provide thorough information about saloon dancing; samba dancing, samba classes, dancing wear, etc

Finally, when you are all ready to dance, you should really try your samba skills at a Samba School Quadra, see below the "samba fever" it gets!!:

Below, we can see the facade of the famous Rio Scenarium Samba bar  / Dance Club:

Rio Scenarium

Photo Credit: Faraway Trends  Photo Protected by law.

Brazilian VIP and Jet Setters during Carnaval: Where do they go?

Brazilian Carnival Jet Setters - Brazilian Carnival Local Celebrities

Many people have questioned me about Rio´s jet-setters during Carnaval.   People have asked me where the Brazilian elite spend their carnival, since it is a popular party. Brazil's elite either love carnival, which is the majority, or they are not somehow attached.  

Below a true Brazil Carnival Celebrity Costume for sale: Impressive, These are costumes some VIP celebrities use in parties too.


The Brazilian VIP that loves carnival, generally end up in official luncheons promoted by large companies, at private boxes at the Rio´s Sambadrome (like the disputed Brahma beer Company), and luxury Balls in Rio.  One of Rio´s most glamorous hotels, the Copacabana Palace for example, promotes for every carnival a very exclusive carnival ball, where men attend in Black Tie and women in expensive carnival costumes.


Below, an example of how some of the VIP Luxury Balls look like, in terms of costumes and dress code: 

Brazil Carnival Luxury Balls


Photo Credit: Agencia FOTO BR / Alexandre Vidal - Photo Protected by law.


Many samba-schools also promote dinners, feijoadas, bacalhoadas, where VIPs can be seen flashing their celebrity status.   I have to say, though, that much of the spontaneity is lost during these events, because the beauty of Carnaval in Brazil is its popular essence and strength.

The other portion that doesn’t like the Brazilian Carnival end up traveling abroad or to the country-side.  Some nearby cities of Rio, like Petrópolis and Teresópolis, or some small beach towns like Búzios, Cabo Frio or Angra dos Reis, promote their own small town carnival club parties and street parades.  It is also a charming way to get to know how a small town celebrates this event.   At these nearby cities, you may end up finding the "Crème de la Crème" of Rio's young society crowd.

Carnaval Bloco - What are street bands, street groups, “blocos de rua” in Rio?

Rio Street Marching Bands / Blocos de Rua

Rio Street Bands, or “Blocos de Rua” in Portuguese, are street bands and groups that are the main popular expression of the free carnival in Rio de Janeiro. The street bands, groups or “blocos” are structured in groups named: block, cordon, band or rancho. The Rio Street Bands include brass instruments (a major difference from samba schools ) in their orchestra and invite everyone that shows up to join in. Rio street bands also have a pre-determined marching route, where the orchestra is followed by the energetic samba dancers.  Members may come dressed anyway they want: in carnival costumes, bathing suits, plain clothes, special T-shirts, or even in drag.

Below, an overview of the Carmelitas Bloco, which has its parade route in Santa Teresa and is very traditional.

Bloco Overview Carmelitas

Photo Credit: Sebastiana.org


The “blocos de rua” are created when groups of friends with a common interest (neighborhood, work place, leisure etc.) decide to march together with a carnival orchestra. Later, a carnival street band name is also defined, with its colors, flag, themes, etc. which will be used in the parade.  The best thing about the Rio Street Bands is that everyone is free to express its own style and will.  You don´t have to pay anything and it is, by far, Rio´s most popular, democratic and vibrant carnival expression in the wonder city.

Over time, Brazil´s street parties have been revitalized, and today most of the young, beautiful, funny, and lively remain to take part in some of the 400 "Blocos de Rua", translated freely as Rio Street Groups or Rio Street Bands.  Today, the largest Rio Street Bands are the “Monobloco”, Cordão da Bola Preta, Banda de Ipanema, Simpatia é Quase a Amor and Suvaco de Cristo.  In 2009, the legendary Bloco Bola Preta drew a street crowd of 500,000 at Avenida Rio Branco.

Today, the Blocos de Rua reflect Rio´s Carnival charm and style and are in vogue amongst native Cariocas. We can see Rio Street Bands in almost all major Rio districts.  The best ones are located at Ipanema, Santa Teresa, Copacabana, Botafogo, Flamengo, Leblon, Gávea, Jardim Botânico, Vila Isabel, Ramos, and Tijuca.  There is even a street band at the charming Paquetá Island at Rio´s Guanabara Bay!


Below a fanstastic colorful shot by Rafael Lopes, of the famous Drag Queens at the Banda de Ipanema;

Drag Queens Ipanema Bloco

Photo Credit: Rafael Lopes Photography


Below we see new video of the 2011 "ACONTECEU" Street Carnival Band / Bloco:

Carnaval Contests: Which samba-school was overall winner in Rio de Janeiro?

Rio Carnival Contests - Carnival Championships

Rio de Janeiro was the first city to formally organize Carnaval Championships in Brazil.   The greatest winners of carnaval contests in Rio de Janeiro are:

  • Portela Samba-School with 21 carnival championship titles
  • Estação Primeira de Mangueira with 18 championship titles
  • Beija-Flor Samba-School with 11 carnival contest championship titles
  • Salgueiro and Império Serrano come up tied with 9 carnival championship titles each

Below we see the Eagle, symbol of Portela, all time winner of Brazilian Carnival in Rio.

Eagle from Portela


Photo Credit: Rio de Janeiro Subsecretary of Communication - Luiza Reis

According to Brazilian carnival historians, the first official Carnival contest in Brazil was won by  Estação Primeira de Mangueira Samba School in 1932 , ( In 1929 there was an informal contest won by the Conjunto Oswaldo Cruz, which evolved to become what is now Portela Samba-School).

Carnaval Floats: How many Floats take part in a Carnival Parade in Rio?

Brazilian Carnival Floats: What are they? 


Allegorical Floats simply known as Carnival floats are essential items to the Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro.   Most people don´t know, but there are specific rules for displaying them at the grand parade days (Sunday Carnival and Monday Carnival) in Rio´s Special Group.   Every samba-school is limited to present five to eight floats during a parade.  Allegorical floats´ measures width are also defined in Rio´s carnival parade: 8 ½ meters (approximately 28 feet).    In terms of height, the float can’t surpass or reach the existing TV broadcasting tower, placed at Sectors 11 and 13.  


Below, a beautiful colorful float, also called as allegorical car, from Academicos da Rocinha Carnival Parade.  These float clearly represent one of the best examples of the Brazilian creative talent. 

Carnival Floats Brazil Carnival


Photo Protected by law. Photo Credit: Alexandre Vidal / AGENCIA FOTO BR 

Also, floats have to be genuinely new, in the sense they can’t be re-used from some other parade in the past.  If we assume all 6 samba-schools take to their parade 8 carnival floats which they are entitled to, we have a total of 48 floats per show at the Sambadrome.  Quite a logisitics work!

Below a video of several Floats being Lined up By Vila Isabel 2011:

Goddesses of Carnaval - Differences between Queens and Godmothers

Brazil Carnival Queens, Godmothers and Muses


In the Brazilian Carnaval, you have probably heard and seen pictures of beautiful women with perfect body and gorgeous costumes. You may have heard or read the term “Drums Queens”, “Carnival Queens” or even “Carnival Godmothers”, right? You may think they are all the same thing but in the culture of Brazil’s Carnival, they have different meanings.   The easiest to understand is the Carnival Queen and Princess.   Each major city in Brazil that promotes Carnival has an official contest usually promoted by the Mayor and tourism body that elects for each given year and Carnival, one Carnival Queen, Carnival Princess and second Princess.  In 2010, Rio ´s Carnival Queen will be Shayenne Cesário and Carnival Princesses Talita Martins and Suellen Pinto.

Brazil carnival Princess

These princesses and Queen were elected in a tough competition with several candidates held usually 5 or 6 month prior to Carnaval. Please read more at our Brazil Carnival Culture tab about Carnival Queen.   These, elected by each city, have a greater purpose to promote carnival, and not a particular Samba School, although all of them are linked to a samba-school, just like soccer teams.  They attend carnival parties, balls and parades in Rio´s Carnival preparation days.   The first official Rio de Janeiro Carnival Queen was Elvira Pagã, who was elected in 1950 by a contest organized by ACC – the Carnival Journalists Association. Carnival Queen ever in Rio.

Below we see Natalia Norbert - Muse for Sao Clemente for Several years:



The second most common type of muse found in Brazil´s Carnaval is Carnival Drum Queens.  These are different in respect to Carnival Queen since they represent a Samba-School within a carnival parade.   There are an integral part of the Samba –School institution and have an important role during the parade. They are also elected and generally have phenomenal physique and are especially great samba dancers.  They are the one that go in front of the Drums Section/ Drums Wing in the carnaval parade. For a detailed description of Carnival Drum Queen tradition, please refer to our cultural directory.

Drums Section Godmothers in Brazil Carnaval have a similar function to Drum Queens, but there are generally older.   Drums Section Godmothers are also specifically linked to a Samba-School.    The also parade close to the Drums Section, but they are not elected, but appointed by the samba school board. Many carnival experts agree that to a certain extent, the Godmother figure was created somehow to accommodate more fantastic women ego’s and at the same time attract even more attention to the that particular samba school.  Many schools pick former Drum Queens in their 30´s and 40´s for this role, many of them have consolidated their artistic careers.  They surely bring more magic and beauty to the show.


Below we see full court: Princesses, Queens, Muses and King for 2009 Carnaval: Charlene, Shayene, Thatiana Pagung, Milton Rodrigues, Jessica Maia

carnival 2009 pictures

How long does the Carnaval Parade / Samba Parade Show lasts?

Time for Each Samba School Parade 

Each major samba-school in Rio de Janeiro´s carnival parade takes approximately 82 minutes to complete the 700 meters of the Sambadrome´s parade route.   (According to the organization committee regulations, samba schools have parade within 65 minutes and a maximum of 82 minutes from the entrance of its first participant and the exit of the samba-school’s last member.)   The spectacle held in Rio Sambadrome starts aproximately 09:00 PM local time (21:00hs) and the last samba school to enter the Marques de Sapucaí Avenue ( original name for Rio´s Sambadrome ) officially starts to parade at around between 02:30 AM.  Each night holds 6 samba-schools parades.  Nevertheless, its always wise to double check with your travel agent or local guide.


As you can see at the upper hand corner in the photo, there is a watch that regulates the timing of the Carnaval Parade.  82 minutes is the maximum time a samba-school can use.

Time of samba parade Foto BR


Photo Credit:  Alexandre Vidal / Agencia FOTO BR - Protected by Law


We have to observe, these are rough estimates, since the organization reserves itself the right to push slightly the beginning of each samba-school parade, in case there is any security issues.  Most of the times though, during Carnaval Sunday and Monday, the grand show ends by the end of the night, maybe 3 AM or 4 AM.   

The total length of each carnival parade night (of the major samba-schools) would be then of more or less 6 ½ hours – 7 hours, quite a long show.   (The two main shows held  Sunday night and Monday night. )  So read our instructions on what to take so you can feel comfortable all during the show.  As a quick reminder, you MAY take small cushions or pillows to protect your buttocks!  Also, we always advise first timers to have an evening nap before going to the Sambodromo. 

How long should I stay in Rio to enjoy the Brazil Carnival?

Where to Stay to Enjoy Rio Carnival

To have fun and be able to relax in the Brazilian Carnival, we suggest you to spend at least 6 days in Rio. We think you need to arrive at least 2 or three days early so you can start to warm up for the carnival street parties. As we described in another Carnival FAQ question, carnival in Rio de Janeiro starts informally Thursday, almost one week before Ash Day, which is Wednesday.

Great Place to Stay: Flamengo Neighborhood in Rio!


There are several Rio Street Carnival activities to take part in on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, when Carnival officially stars at the wonder city.  Also, you will probably want to hang out at Ipanema´s Beach to relax from your flight. If you stay in Rio for 6 days, you will be also be able to see some of Rio landmarks too, like the Sugar Loaf and Christ the Redeemer Statue.   You can schedule yourself to see the Carnival Parades at the Sambadrome Sunday or Monday, and later take part in some of the 300 plus street bands that make the street carnival one of the most exciting popular attractions in Rio.

Sugar Loaf cable car


Photo Credit: the editor

If you are able to stay more than 6 days for the Brazilian Carnival holidays in Rio, so much the better. You will have even more fun hanging out with locals until all partying is over.

How many people at parades? Brazil Carnival Frequently Asked Questions

Rio Carnival Parade Numbers: Rio Sambadrome

One recurring question amongst foreigners is the size of a samba-school during a full parade.   Samba-Schools in Rio have regulations that define their size during a parade.  The most important carnaval association in Rio de Janeiro, defined in the 2009 set of rules that each samba-school had to parade with a minimum of 2.500 members and a maximum of 4.500 merry makers.   The size of the Drums Section at the Rio´s major samba-schools is also regulated, with a minimum 200 percussionists.    Another item that is clearly defined is the number of participants at the “Baianas Section”, which needs to have minimally 100 Baianas. 


Below, an impressive photo of the Unidos da Tijuca parade in 2009 by Alexandre Vidal.

Tijuca Parade 2009 Carnaval fotos

Photo Credit: Alexandre Vidal / AGENCIA FOTO BR  - Protected by Law 


Also, only up to 250 members of the samba-schools organizational team such as directors, managers, etc. can parade without the traditional carnival costume.   Normally this contingent parade with a specially designed shirt or suit, but need not to worry about the choreography and or special make up.  (They should be able to sing the parade samba, “samba enredo”.)   They are spread through out all sections as to help provide esthetic harmony.
If we consider the major samba spectacle in Rio ´s carnival nights where we have 6 samba-schools parading (Carnival Sunday and Carnival Monday), we have in total about 24.000 (twenty-four thousand) merry makers / carnival parade members per night.   Impressive logistics, since all of these partiers have to come in full Carnaval costumes, in an organized manner!  Important to observe each samba-samba school association has its own set of regulations.  As an example, the São Paulo Samba School Association; Liga Independente das Escolas de Samba de São Paulo – LIGASP, states each samba-school must parade minimally with 2.000 participants.

Number of Samba-Schools in Rio Janero: How many samba-schools are in activity?

Number of Samba-School in Rio Carnival

Rio de Janeiro is probably the city of the greatest number of Samba-Schools in full activity.   It makes sense since Rio is considered to be the founding city of both samba and the Carnaval itself in Brazil.   Today there are approximately 75 organized samba-schools in action in Rio de Janeiro, divided in 3 major associations ( LIESA, LESGA, AESCRJ ) that co-organize Rio´s carnival parades.


Below you can see the comissão de frente of Renascer do Jacarepaguá Samba-School, which is part of LESGA, 2nd League of Rio de Janeiro Carnaval. 

Comissao de Frente Renascer

Photo Credit: Alexandre Vidal / AGENCIA FOTO BR  - Protected by Law

It is important to note however that the majority of the incipient samba-schools have limited financial resources.   The most important schools, members of LIESA and LESGA, can be rich and luxurious, with full legions of participants and supporters.   But smaller samba-schools have only dozens of participants, but not thousands…  All samba-schools however have a chance to parade either at the Sambadrome or Av. Presidente Vargas.

Rio s Sambadrome: What can I take? Food, beverages, photo cameras, etc

What is allowed to take to Rio Sambadrome?

You can take to the Sambadrome at most two 500ml plastic containers with beverages and two items of food, such as fruits, sandwiches and snacks.   There are many fast-food shops at the Sambadrome, but not fine restaurants.  Ideally, since the first parades starts at 8:00 / 9:00 PM, try to have your dinner at the hotel or Rio apartment you are staying at.   You can also carry small portable mattresses or pillows, since you will be seating for several hours.  We also recommend you to have an evening nap before the parade.   Be extra careful and bring your own toilet paper just in case, the bathrooms have some shortage.   You just never know. 

opening section parade comissao de frente

Photo Credit: Alexandre Vidal - FOTO BR Agency

In terms of recording the show, you are allowed to take any kind of personal still camera or video camera, as long it is not for commercial or professional use.   No problem using flashes.   But don´t forget the Carnaval parade in Rio is copyrighted and you can run into trouble for violating property rights.   You are also allowed to take your binoculars/theatre glasses to the Sambadrome.  

Objects made of polystyrene, glass, firecrackers and fireworks are strictly forbidden.   A disposable raincoat should definitely be considered for the eventuality of a summer shower.   Many guides say you can’t take umbrellas, but there is no specific regulation for that, although they can get in the way of other people's view of the parade.    I also recommend you to take your two items of snacks, you are entitled to like fresh fruits and cereal bars, as examples.  Many people may not like what is available at the fast-food kiosks at the Sambadrome, so these power bars can give you all the energy you may need through the night and beginning of morning, when parades ends.  Finally, don´t take to much money to the carnival parade.   There is no need.  Take the strict amount you need for your cab and food purposes.   Rio de Janeiro is a large city and prudence is always recommended.

Safety in Sambadromo de Rio de Janeiro. Is the Sambadrome Safe?

How Safe is Rio Sambadrome During Carnival

The Sambodrome during carnival in Rio is probably one of the safest places to be in Brazil during Samba Parade days.   There is a huge media coverage and attention over the world-famous celebrities, politicians and royalties among the huge masses.  The Sambodrome is protected by huge barriers around the stadium which nobody can surpass without using the gateways.   Audience will be checked for both commercial and security reasons.  In 2009, more than 700 Rio de Janeiro military police officers were located at the Sambodromo, aside private security.  

Below, a beautiful shot of the Sambadrome runway, with Academicos da Rocinha parade in 2008

sambadrome safety


Photo Credit: Agencia FOTO BR / Alexandre Vidal - Photo Protected by law.

Nevertheless, you have to keep your eyes open at your way out.  From the moment you leave the Sambadrome and get your taxi cab, make sure you don´t look lost.  Try to follow the crowd and hail for the taxi cab.   But as a rule, there will be loads of policemen outside the Sambadrome too.

Samba Back Stall Seats; Individual Chairs, Sambadrome Numbered Chairs or Cadeiras in Portuguese

The third type of tickets sold to Rio ´s Carnival parade are the Back Stalls or Individual Numbered Chairs.   The back stall carnival seats are similar to the open stalls ( front stalls, open boxes frisas) but instead of being grouped, they are consist of plastic seats and numbered.    These Sambadrome Individual Chairs are strategically located between the open boxes mentioned in the previous section and Sambadrome´s grandstands. 

This kind of carnival ticket – seat are located only in two sectors: Sector 6 and 13.   In total, the Rio Carnival organization committee places 4,220 individual seats available for sale. (525 are reserved for handicapped individuals and their escorts). In terms of pricing, Sambadrome´s Individual Back stalls seats prices are very reasonable, starting from US$ 115.00.  In terms of the carnival vibes, these kinds of seats are comfortable, with lots of breathing space.

General Seats Information:

Sambadrome: Types and capacity of seats.  Basically there are five types of Carnival Tickets available for the Samba Parade in Rio:  Boxes, Dress Circle, Grandstands Seats, Back Stall Seats, and Specially Handicapped.  Some of them have a variety of names, so we will simplify the most we can, in order to make your understanding easier.  It is important to observe a few rules which are common to most tickets:

  • Children 5 years of age or younger are allowed going for free, while children over 5 years old pays full price. ( Be sure bringing your documents/passport in this case ) .
  • There is no student or senior citizen concession.
  • The carnival tickets are only valid for that specific section you choose, and for that specific carnival date ( Saturday, Sunday, and Monday ) . 

The Sambadrome Parade tickets consist of two parts which are only valid together.   The first part of the ticket consists of a magnetic striped card, which will be retained at the first gate to the Sambadrome.   The remaining part is another plastic identification card which should be hanged around your neck with the supplied string, is for your sector entrance.

After you have checked into the Sambadrome with your magnetic card, you can come and go out of your sector as many times as you like and walk around within the Sambadrome, only within your own sector.

Samba Food: What to eat before a samba rehearsal or samba carnaval parade?

What to Eat before a Samba Parade?


Wondering what to eat before going to a samba rehearsal or the parade itself at the Sambadrome is common.   The samba days may be exhausting if you don’t eat appropriately. My recommendation is to eat some light carbohydrates before joining a samba rehearsal, street group or carnival parade.   During these events, you lose a lot of energy (no wonder why Brazilian dancers are thin!) and you naturally sweat a lot.   If you don’t eat enough though, you will lose the best part of the fun when the partying is picking up.

A samba rehearsal can last up to 8 -10 hours, so if you don’t eat an energized small meal, you will eventually get tired.  You also have to keep in mind that it always gets hot, even in open spaces, where most of the street groups or “blocos de rua” are played.   These places can pack up anywhere from 1.000 to 5.000 partiers easily.    In most of the closed spaces, you can always grab something to eat, but stick with the beverages.    One of my tricks is to carry power bars (one or two).   This way, you can concentrate in getting hydrated and on the partying without worrying about eating.   Always remember too that eventually (and hopefully) you will learn some samba dance moves, and dancing samba is a heavy “fuel” burner.   Add the sun, the beer, the romance and your energy level can let you down. 

Samba Food


So, to sum up, don’t jump meals and try to put on some good carbohydrates before samba dancing and carnival parties.   Avoid Feijoadas and churrasco at all costs!

Samba Technical Rehearsals Explained, Rio´s Sambadrome

Samba technical rehearsals are the last dry runs samba schools go through before the official grand carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro.  Samba schools at the Brazilian Carnival practice during over 8 months at their “quadras” in preparation for the Rio carnival.  The problem of these practices within the samba school´s premises is they have a very limited space.  Normally the samba school facilities are not in open air and do not resemble the carnival parade route from the Rio´s Sambadrome, which has 700 meters, a little less than half-a mile.   In 2006, Rio´s carnival organizers decided to start with what they called “samba technical rehearsals” at the Sambadrome itself, in order for samba-schools to help test for the official carnival parade’s presentation and general outcome.

Although the “samba technical parades” are still part of the preparation phase of the carnival, samba schools are obliged to follow a minimum set of rules established the Carnival association in Rio in terms of number of components, timing, scheduling, etc.   As an example, at these dry runs, each school must take minimally 800 merry-makers to the Sambadrome.  Samba schools use the opportunity to fine tune all of the sectors of the parade, but some areas such as “comissão de frente” – opening wing, and drum section deserve special attention by the samba schools´ carnival directors and producers. 

Below, a very interesting photo by Alexandre Vidal.  It shows the Baianas dressed with specific clothing that mimics the carnaval costumes.  The legendary Baianas use them at the samba technical rehearsals to make sure they have the right choreography.


Samba Technical Rehersal Unidos da Tijuca


Photo Credit: Alexandre Vidal / FOTO BR Agency - Protected by Law


Floats distances, singing of the samba theme lyrics and overall harmony of the samba parade are also carefully reviewed. RIOTUR, the Rio de Janeiro official tourism body, LIESA, samba schools and television broadcasting agencies, all take the samba technical parade opportunity to make the last sound, lights, and visual adjustments to the grand parade.   Since its still a dry rehearsal, people do not parade with their costumes.

Each major samba school is entitled to have two samba technical rehearsals which happen in December, January and the beginning of February.  The samba schools parade for the 82 minutes they are allotted and simulate, as far as possible, their presentations.  Samba-schools that go through these samba workouts are part of two top groups of the Rio´s Carnival samba schools called the “Special Group”, and the “Access Group”.   Samba celebrities and carnival drum queens also use the technical rehearsals at the Sambadrome to test their samba dance routines and popularity too.   One of the nice things of this last samba shakedown is that they are completely free!   Anyone can go to the Marques de Sapucaí stands and watch this wonderful carnival backstage event.   Try it out since it can be your perfect warming up for Rio´s Carnival!

Below you see real footage of the Carnival "Technical Rehearsals" from Sao Clemente:  Pure FUN and JOY!!

Samba Wear - How to dress in Samba Rehearsals Ensaios ?


Once your are all set to join a samba rehearsal ( ensaio in Portuguese ) in Rio, try using light clothing.   Samba rehearsals in Rio de Janeiro can be quite hot, since they get really packed.   Most of the major samba-schools in Rio renovated their quadras, including installing air-conditioned, but still they can´t cool down all the vibes!   So choosing the adequate dress code is important.  After hours of samba dancing, you can find yourself soaked at the end of the samba-rehearsals, if you don’t wear extremely light fabric.  


Below, an example of dress code for samba rehearsal at the ensaios boxes, where VIP guests are welcomed.

Dress samba rehearsals

Photo Credit: Unidos da Tijuca


If you are a guy, try not to wear that Hawaiian shirt or tropical flowers patterns shirt seen at Tom Selleck´s Magnum series, since they are out of fashion and blatant indication you are a foreigner.   Men could wear jeans or long khaki Bermudas shorts with cotton t-shirt.  Girls could wear light skirts or small shorts, but be careful not to overdress.  Avoid the famous flip-flops, or your feet and fingers will get hurt.  Think of the samba rehearsal “almost as an outdoor activity”, but at night.   You have to feel comfortable.   Also, nobody uses carnaval costumes at the samba-rehearsals / ensaios.   In essence, the dress code is light, fresh, comfortable and sensual.  But as you probably have noticed, Brazilians are very worried about their overall look.  So don´t forget your make-up and accessories.

Below, a casual look / dress code for the samba ensaio:

Samba dress code



Sambadrome Tickets: Open Front Stalls; Open Boxes, Frisas in Portuguese

Sambadrome Front Stalls, also called Rio Carnival Open Boxes, are similar to the Special Boxes described above.    The main attribute of these Sambadrome open boxes is that they are in fact open, and not closed.   The Sambadrome Open front Stalls are technically like booths /stalls and are not separated by walls.  The open boxes / carnival frisas are well known in Rio de Janeiro ´s carnival for their proximity of the carnival parade runway.    As you can see in many Sambadrome Maps or parade photos, in some of these front stall you can almost “touch” the samba dancers.   The carnival parade atmosphere is close to the energy of the samba schools.  The good thing here is that you maintain your privacy, since the booths have a delimited space.   In terms of size, there are four types of open front stall tickets at the Sambadromo.

The first type is called by the carnival organizers as “Regular”, and they hold up to 6 occupants.  The second of Open Boxes ( Frisas ) are called “Small” and they hold up to 4 ( four ) occupants.   In terms of pricing, they are the second most expensive carnival tickets types, losing only for the Special Boxes / Carnival Luxury Suites.   The downside here is you don’t have some pampering, in terms of food or drink. There are no exclusive waiters or barmen, but there is ample snack & food stands available.  We consider this type of Sambadrome tickets one of the best value propositions since you have a private entry, privileged location seated in an excellent viewing perspective for watching the parade.   

The Sambadrome Front Stalls are available in all sectors, apart from sectors 1 and 2.  The other point we have to observe is in some sectors, the seats are uncovered: Sambadrome Standard Sectors 3, 4, 5, 7, 9 and 11 and in sectors 6 and 13.   Sambadrome Open Boxes are distributed along 4 rows, A, B, C and D ; being A the front row.

We consider this type of carnival ticket seat price / option interesting:  You will have privacy, preferential view, privileged atmosphere and the best samba charm!

General Seats Information:

Sambadrome: Types and capacity of seats.  Basically there are five types of Carnival Tickets available for the Samba Parade in Rio:  Boxes, Dress Circle, Grandstands Seats, Back Stall Seats, and Specially Handicapped.  Some of them have a variety of names, so we will simplify the most we can, in order to make your understanding easier.  It is important to observe a few rules which are common to most tickets.  

  • Children 5 years of age or younger are allowed going for free, while children over 5 years old pays full price. ( Be sure bringing your documents/passport in this case ) .
  • There is no student or senior citizen concession. 
  • The carnival tickets are only valid for that specific section you choose, and for that specific carnival date ( Saturday, Sunday, and Monday ) . 
  • The Sambadrome Parade tickets consist of two parts which are only valid together.  The first part of the ticket consists of a magnetic striped card, which will be retained at the first gate to the Sambadrome. The remaining part is another plastic identification card which should be hanged around your neck with the supplied string, is for your sector entrance.
  • After you have checked into the Sambadrome with your magnetic card, you can come and go out of your sector as many times as you like and walk around within the Sambadrome, only within your own sector.

See 5 Different Sambadrome Map, Rio Janeiro Maps - Brazil

Sambadrome Maps: View 3 Different Rio Sambadrome Maps

To find a Sambadrome map that depicts with accuracy Rio´s Sambadrome is also not an easy task.   In many of them, you simply cannot understand where are the Sectors, where is the beginning or the ending.   For this reason, we placed below 5 different kinds of Sambadrome maps so you can have a better idea.   In the first set, we placed the Sambadrome Maps where their direction was facing east, in the sense the parade runway / or ending would be at the right side.  It will be easier to follow since the Praça da Apoteose, (Apotheosis Square ) , which marks the Parade End, is symbolized by a great M shaped sculpture.

Sambadrome Rio Map 1:

See below the first of the five Rio Sambadrome Maps we re-printed so you can visualize the samba complex in Rio and all of its sectors.  Sectors 1, Sector 3, Sector 5, Sector 7, Sector 9, Sector 11 and Sambadromo Sector 13 can easily be seen in very light brown and  yellow. 

Samba map

Sambadrome Map 2 Rio de Janeiro:

This second Sambodromo Map displayed below shows the Samba Run Way view from left to Right.  The Sambadrome in Rio is also called Sambodromo in Portuguese or “Marquês de Sapucaí”.    The Sambadrome Special Boxes – VIP area,  can be seen below represented in a long yellow thin rectangle, as “Camarotes Sector 2”, as an example.

Rio Janeiro Map

Rio ´s Sambadrome Map 3:

Below, another Sambadrome Map written in English is shown.  This Sambadromo Map however, displays us a different perspective.   This Marques de Sapucaí Map shows the aerial perspective/ view as if you were located at the beginning of the samba complex, and could see until the end of the parade runway, which is facing north.  The other nice aspect of this Rio Sambadromo Map is its 3 dimensional perspective. Carnival Open Boxes, or Open Stalls, also called as Frisas in Portuguese, are represented in this map in pink.


Samba Map Rio

Top Carnaval Bloco: What are best Blocos Carnaval / Street Bands in Rio?

Rio Street Carnival Marching Bands: Blocos de Rua


With so many options what ate the TOP Carnaval Blocos in Rio?  This is a very common and recurring question in Rio´s carnival.   Today there are more than 500 Street Bands, or Blocos de Rua, Blocos de Carnaval in the Carnaval in Rio and to appoint the best is not an easy task. 

Below you will see my personal list of the best Blocos de Rua – Rio Street Bands.    Some of the criterion I used to make this list where: tradition, safety, beauty of participants, energy level and the route which the bloco follows.
In total, below you will see a list of 20 Blocos de Rua which we consider the real top street groups at the wonder city.  Most of them are located at Ipanema, Copacabana, Flamengo, Gávea, Botafogo, Laranjeiras, Jardim Botânico and Santa Teresa, the Zona Sul ( South Zone ) districts. 



Follows below the Top street bands of Rio, as well as the neighborhoods they parade / route.

  • Imprensa Que Eu Gamo  - Laranjeiras


  • Banda De Ipanema –  Ipanema

  • Bagunça Meu Coreto  - Laranjeiras / Flamengo

  • Cordão Da Bola Preta – Center of Rio - Downtown

  • Orquestra Voadora – Flamengo

  • Bloco das Piranhas - Flamengo

  • Bloco de Monday -  Botafogo

  • Carmelitas  -  Santa Teresa

  • Vem Ni Mim Que Eu Sou Facinha

  • Que Merda É Essa? - Ipanema

  • Empolga as 9  - Botafogo

  • Volta, Alice - Laranjeiras

  • Bloco Da Ansiedade - Laranjeiras

  • Mulheres de Chico - Leblon

Below a sarcastic version of Alice in Wonderland at the Banda de Ipanema.  Fantastic picuture!

Banda de Ipanema

Photo Credit: Whereohwhere Flickr

  • Bafo da Onça – Center- Downtown

  • Cordão do Boitatá  - Center - Downtown

  • Monobloco - Ipanema

  • Badalo de Santa Teresa” – Santa Teresa


Now its up to you to make your mind and have fun!

Transportation by Subway Sambadrome - How do I get to Sambadrome in Rio?


Getting to Sambadome is quite, either by the Rio Metro – Subway or by taxis.   Avoid buses for all costs, since there is big chance you might get stuck in a traffic jam. ( The only exception is you are going in a private group/ tour ; the bus driver in this case knows all the  short cuts and amount of time he has to arrive in time.)  The Sambadrome area is quite close to most parts of Rio, excluding Barra da Tijuca.

Metro-Rio - Subway Option: During these carnival days Sunday and Monday, Metro in Rio works exceptionally all though the night, with a 10 minute interval.  If you are located in Ipanema, Copacabana, Flamengo, Catete, Botafogo going by subway can be a safe and pricey option.  Many locals and Brazilians that parade use this option with the full carnival costume outfit. Be sure to know which station you will stop at.  


Rio Metro Map Subway



Ticket holders for the even numbered sectors must get off at the “PRAÇA ONZE” Station, no matter where you came from.  Once outside the station, turn twice to your right and then walk straight in direction to Sector 2.  To get to Sectors 4 and 6, turn on Rua Carmo Neto and keep walking until Av. Salvador de Sá. You will then see the Sambadromo. 



Ticket holders for the ODD numbered sectors must get off at the “CENTRAL do BRASIL” station.    From there, walk to the Sambadrome, a stretch of approximately 700 meters, going past the samba-schools' floats. You don’t need to worry since you will see loads of people with carnival costumes.  Another good idea is just to follow the crowd, until you see the Sambadrome.   Several Sambadromo signs are also posted.   The price of each Metro Rio – Subway way costs about US$ 1,00 – 1,50.

Transportation to the Sambadrome: Using a Taxi

Getting to Sambadome is quite, either by the Rio Metro – Subway or by taxis.   Avoid buses for all costs, since there is big chance you might get stuck in a traffic jam. ( The only exception is you are going in a private group/ tour ; the bus driver in this case knows all the  short cuts and amount of time he has to arrive in time.)  The Sambadrome area is quite close to most parts of Rio, excluding Barra da Tijuca.

Taxi Option to Sambadrome:  Using a cab to go to Rio Sambadrome is also a convenient option, since the Sambadromo venue is not that far from Rio´s south zone.   If you are traveling in a group the price is surely worthwhile.   Most taxis during these days won't put the meter, to drive to the Rio´s Sambadrome, but charge you flat rate R$ 40,00-  R$ 60,00 ( US$ 20,00 – US$ 30,00) no matter whether you are alone or 4 people.   Be sure to agree to the price before entering the taxi. Try to negotiate as possible.   When giving the driver the journey’s direction, be sure to tell him what Sector of the Sambadrome you are going to.   In terms of directions, just so you are aware, the best route is through Santa Bárbara tunnel (the driver knows the way! ) and for those who are staying at from north zone, will go through Rua Itapiru.  In both cases the taxicab must go over São Sebastião Viaduct, which runs parallel to the Sambadrome.  Right away the signs to the entrances of different sectors can be seen. 

Picture of a regular taxi cab in Rio

Rio Taxi Cab

On the way back from the Sambadrome, you do not need to worry too.  You will see dozens of taxi/cabs all through the night.  They are painted yellow with a blue stripe across the car’s lateral side.   In some sites you will see recommendation for the use of special taxis, red or white colored.   Although they are part of taxi cooperatives, they can be very expensive.  We see no need for this recommendation since today all regular taxis in Rio have air-conditioned and follow strict safety rules.

VIP Boxes Sambadrome Tickets - Camarotes Samba Tickets to Sambadrome

Rio´s Carnival Special Boxes are also known as suites or Camarotes are the most prestigious carnival seats within the Sambadrome in Rio.  This is true for several reasons:  First of all they offer an impressive view, right in front of the parades.  These boxes are very similar to VIP or corporate boxes offered in baseball or multi-purpose arenas in America, like Madison Square Garden.   These carnival camarotes or samba special boxes are wall-partitioned, private and have air-conditioning systems to cool down temperature.  The special boxes at the Sambadrome also offer round trip transfer, complete buffet, exclusive samba welcome kit, luxury bar, drinks, special decoration, VIP security, waiters/ barmen services, TV videos, and exclusive services on demand.

Many large corporations in Brazil offer this kind of carnival box to important clients and host national celebrities too.   Basically, there are 3 types of these special carnival boxes, Type A, Type B, and Type C.  They are basically distinguished by their size/ and number of occupants each type holds.  Type A holds up to 24 occupants, Type B Boxes holds 20 occupants and Type C holds 12 seats:

    * Special Boxes - Four buildings between sectors 3, 5, 7 and 9 with up to 20 seats in “Type A” Boxes , which hold 24 occupants and “TYPE  B” Boxes , holding 20 occupants,
    * Covered Boxes in sectors  3, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 4 – 24 boxes per sector, in a total of 144 boxes
    * Sector 2 Boxes– Three floors containing boxes A, B and C, each box with 12 seats 

VIP Boxes Highlights: 


The highlight of this type of samba-parade ticket / area is its exclusivity and best view.    Prices of these carnival Sambadrome types of tickets vary, but they generally are the the most expensive within the Sambadrome.  The special boxes ticket prices also vary in terms of the parade day, size of the camarote (box) and sector.   Some of the most desired and luxurious special carnival boxes are located at Section 2 of Rio´s Sambadrome and sometimes are called as Extra VIP Boxes.   Still, tickets these carnival boxes can also be sold individually, per seat.   These Sambadrome Special Boxes carnival tickets costs at an average range of US$ 600.00 to US$ 2,200.00 per person.

Again, this is a great opportunity to get to see the greatest show on earth with style and comfort.    You can arrange with your friends or buy the carnival special luxury suites / luxury boxes individually, and meet some of Brazil´s most interesting people, like famous actresses, soccer players, movie-stars, professional samba dancers, and foreign tourists too!

General Seats Information:

Sambadrome: Types and capacity of seats.  Basically there are five types of Carnival Tickets available for the Samba Parade in Rio:  Boxes, Dress Circle, Grandstands Seats, Back Stall Seats, and Specially Handicapped.   Some of them have a variety of names, so we will simplify the most we can, in order to make your understanding easier.  It is important to observe a few rules which are common to most tickets.   

  • Children 5 years of age or younger are allowed going for free, while children over 5 years old pays full price. ( Be sure bringing your documents/passport in this case ) .
  • There is no student or senior citizen concession. 
  • The carnival tickets are only valid for that specific section you choose, and for that specific carnival date ( Saturday, Sunday, and Monday ) . 
  • The Sambadrome Parade tickets consist of two parts which are only valid together.  The first part of the ticket consists of a magnetic striped card, which will be retained at the first gate to the Sambadrome. The remaining part is another plastic identification card which should be hanged around your neck with the supplied string, is for your sector entrance.
  • After you have checked into the Sambadrome with your magnetic card, you can come and go out of your sector as many times as you like and walk around within the Sambadrome, only within your own sector.


What are Cheapest Samba Tickets in Carnival of Rio?

Sambadrome Grandstands are the largest type of seating tickets available for sale in Rio´s Carnival, holding approximately in a total of 16,454 spectators.   The areas are quite similar to grandstands we see in football or racing stadium we see all over the world.   The Sambodromo Grandstand seats are made up of concrete and divided by several layers.   In terms of pricing, as you could imagine,  they are the least expensive, being made for budget travelers.   Rio´s Sambadrome Grandstands are located in all sectors except for sector 2, but please observe there are 3 types of grandstands: “SPECIAL”, “TOURIST” and “POPULAR”.  Not all of them are available in all sectors.   The POPULAR type of Grandstand ticket at Rio Sambadrome is the cheapest you can get.

The fun thing here is that you will get a chance to mingle with locals and experience Brazil’s heart and soul. At the Rio ´s Carnival Grandstands, you will se the irreverence, playfulness, and enjoyment Brazilians have during carnival parades.  Please remember you are allowed to bring pillow or seat cushions, to protect your buttocks.  We hope this will be a small detail since you will be standing and cheering with the Samba-School’s energy all along! Sambodromo Grandstand ticket prices start at approximately US$ 115,00 and can go up to US$ 400,00 , depending on the Sector chosen. 

A common question we received is related to the best sector of the carnival Grandstands type tickets.  We believe Sectors 9 and Sector 11 of Grandstand seats really have the best view, since you will see almost all of the Sambadrome´s runway and you will be close to the where the drummers station during most of the parade.   The view of the carnival parade is very impressive, being panoramic.  Important to note that since most Sambodromo Grandstand seats are unnumbered, people that arrive first get the best seats within that Sector, just like in a baseball or football stadium.    The top layers of the Sambadrome Grandstands are up more than 15 meters, about 45 feet tall, so view is impressive.   Lastly, we remind you that these areas are uncovered, so bring a plastic over coat just in case it rains.

What are Samba Rehearsals - Where are they held in Rio de Janeiro?

Samba Practices in Rio - Samba Rehearsals: a Great samba Event for Everyone


Samba School rehearsals are the second most important carnaval event, losing only after the official carnival parades, which happen in February / March.  Carnaval Samba Schools rehearsals like the name suggests, are the practice routines samba-schools go through at their facilities (called Quadra in Portuguese ) in order to prep up for the carnival.   Carnaval rehearsals start generally in June / July every, at the time the samba schools start to define their carnival parade theme for next year.  At the samba schools rehearsals, the community mingles with the samba schools directors, managers, enthusiasts and helps to organize for carnival.   Each samba school generally rehearsals at their own samba quadra once per week.


Photo Credit: Alexandre Vidal / AGENCIA FOTO BR - Protected by Law

Rocinha Quadra by Agencia Foto BR


Above, quadra from Rocinha Samba-School, where they organize their Samba-Rehersals. 

At the samba rehearsals, most of the carnaval events which impact the carnival parade are defined.   As an example, as soon as the parade theme is defined by the samba school board of directors, the samba parade theme song is also chosen through an election.   Normally, anyone amongst comporors team can propose the samba parade theme song lyrics and song, which are voted for.   Another activity sometimes also defined during samba rehearsals is the selection of the Carnaval Drum Queen.   Samba schools invite many carnival muses to the samba rehearsals and after samba routine dances, are voted by the samba school directors and community members.   The Drum section of the samba schools also workout new rhythms and beats at the rehearsals.  This is when the drum director gets his chance to fine tune his percussionists, making sure they are all in harmony.   For the samba schools flag-bearers and samba-host, the samba rehearsals are vital.   This is where they have a chance to practice their samba ballet, with the drum section, samba singers, and the community itself. 

Most foreigners, and even many Brazilians don’t know, but a series of backstage events are taking place simultaneously at that very moment when the samba rhythm is pounding in our hearts, during a samba rehearsal.  The samba schools also take the opportunity to promote the school and next years parade.  VIP guests and international celebrities are welcomed at the directors´ boxes.  Sponsors and partners are also invited to demonstrate the development of the carnival preparation.  This is also the time samba school directors get another chance to talk in more informal manner and deliberate about many of the samba schools ´ next steps and decisions.  

Samba Rehearsal Mangueira

Photo Credit: Eduardo Telles / Estacaoprimeira.org

Samba rehearsals reach their peak popularity right before carnival, in December and January, when the quadras become completely packed, by the community, samba lovers, and tourists.   Follows below the addresses of the main samba schools rehearsals sites in Rio:


  • São Clemente Samba School Rehearsal - Av. Presidente Vargas , 3120 - The closest to Zona Sul

•    Unidos da Tijuca Samba-Rehearsal Av. Francisco Bicalho 47, Clube dos Portuários


•    Mangueira Samba-Rehearsal:  Rua Visconde de Niterói, 1072 – Mangueira 

•    Beija-Flor Rehearsal: Rua Pracinha Walace Paes Leme, 1025 -  Nilópolis, RJ

•    Viradouro Samba-Rehearsal: Avenida do Contorno, 16 - Barreto - Niterói -

•    Mocidade Independente Samba-Rehearsal: Rua Coronel Tamarindo, 38 – Padre Miguel

•    Vila-Isabel Samba-School Rehearsal: Av. Boulevard Vinte e Oito de Setembro, 382 - Vila

•    Salgueiro: Rua Silva Telles, 104 - Andaraí - Rio de Janeiro - RJ

•    Portela Samba-School Rehearsal: Rua Clara Nunes, 81 - Madureira

•    Império Serrano Samba-Rehearsal: Av. Ministro Edgard Romero, 114 – Madureira

•    Grande Rio Samba School: Rua Wallace Soares, 5 – Duque de Caxias

•    Porto da Pedra Samba-Rehearsal: Rua Lúcio Tomé Feteira, 290 –Vila Lage

•    Imperatriz Leopoldinense Samba-Rehearsal: Rua Professor Lace, 235 Ramos

•    Acadêmicos da Rocinha Samba-Rehearsal: Rua Bertha Lutz nº 80. São Conrado


Finally, it is important to say that in the past these quadras had limited infra-structure for tourists.  Today, most of them were reformed and renovated.   Many of them already have air conditioned, bars and clean bathrooms.   In terms of safety, much has been improved with the increased security, prohibition of bearing arms, cameras, and more law enforcement agents within the rehearsals.  


We strongly recommend 4 'ensaios' in quadras, in terms of safety, location and overall fun: 


  • Estação Primeira de Mangueira, a classic samba rehearsal

  • Unidos da Tijuca (very close to city center)

A Classic "community " Samba Rehersal with beautiful women, see below!


What are the Famous Samba Schools ? Carnaval Frequently Asked Questions


Rio de Janeiro is the home of samba and indeed the most traditional and world wide famous samba schools are established in Rio. Some of these samba-schools have 70 years, therefore its fame.  In Brazil, the most famous samba-schools are the following:

  • Estação Primeira de Mangueira that won 18 carnival contest and is the oldest samba-school within the Brazilian Carnival having within its members, several founders of the Carnival itself, composers, and other important personalities such as Cartola, Zé Espinguela, Euclides, Saturnino Gonçalves, Chico Buarque, Beth Carvalho, Bezerra da Silva, Caetano Veloso, Tom Jobim and others.


Mangueira Flag Official

Photo Credit: Olhar Folião


  • Portela Samba-School, which won 21 times, the only won that won consecutively for 7 years and had an important role in the development of Rio´s Carnival.


Portela Flag

Photo Credit: Olhar Folião

  • Salgueiro Samba-School that won 9 Carnival Contests in Rio, especially popular in the 60` s. Salgueiro carnival producers made a esthetic revolution at their carnival parades from 1957 though 1965. Many important carnival personalities such as Joaquim Calça Larga, Fernando Pamplona, Dirceu, Marie Lousie Nery, Arlindo Rodrigues and Nilton Sá to mention the old school.

  • Império Serrano Samba-School, home to several legendary “sambistas” like Silas de Oliveira, Mano Décio, Aniceto do Império, Dona Yvone Lara and Aluizio Machado. Império Serrano Samba-School also won 5 major league carnival contest titles in Rio de Janeiro.

  • Beija-Flor Samba-School founded in 1948, is probably one of the most popular carnival samba schools today in Brazil. Beija-Flor Samba-School won 5 carnival titles since 2003, and gained fans all over Brazil when it was declared winner for three consecutive years in 1976, 1977, and 1978.

  • Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel Samba School, Imperatriz Leopoldinense Samba-School, and lately Unidos da Tijuca Samba-School are also very popular within their communities.


Tijuca samba tradition

Photo Credit: Unidos da Tijuca


Amongst the São Paulo Carnival, the most famous and popular samba schools are Vai-Vai Samba School, which won 13 Carnival contests, Nenê de Vila Matilde Samba School and Unidos do Peruche, one of the first in São Paulo, Camisa Verde e Branco Samba-School and Mocidade Alegre. Recently, X-9 Paulistana Samba School and Gaviões da Fiel Samba_School have also enjoyed a crescent popularity.

What to dress under the Carnaval Costume at Carnival parade in Rio?

If you are going to join the Carnaval parade in a samba-school, try wearing some kind of clothing that doesn’t affect your costume, and or protect yourself from picking or itching.   (Some of the costumes are made off synthetic materials that are really not that comfortable.)  Ideally women should wear tank tops and comfortable shorts or underwear, depending on the costume.   Some women prefer to use samba-bikinis.  Men could use normal underwear and white cotton jerseys.   In some costumes for men, you can put on directly the upper part of the costume no problem, since it will cover most of your upper body.    The important thing at the Brazil Parades is not to use anything that could harm the costume or color harmony. The important thing here is the unity of the wings ´costumes, so the less you shine out the better.   Also check with the samba-school representatives for the costumes' details so you know in detail your do’s and don’ts. So remember, have a comfortable and very light under-costume if you are going to parade.

Here below, we see two girls getting ready for the 2011 parade.  As you can see, the use least clothing possible since sometimes the costume is already very hot:

As you can see below, some of the costumes can be very hot, so try to use very minimal clothing under your costume.

Under Dress Costume


Photo Credit: Alexandre Vidal / FOTO BR Agency - Protected by Law


If you were able to find a place (booth, VIP boxes)  to watch the show after you have paraded, make sure to bring a small bag with comfortable clothing so you can change and watch the rest of the parade.  If you have no plans for watching the parade, don´t be afraid or shy of catching a cab with your full costume…After all its Carnaval.

Which international celebrities visited Brazilian Carnaval?

Brazilian Carnival Celebrities: A Constant Magnet International Presences

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro has been a magnet for celebrities since the 90´s, when the “world´s largest show” started evolved in terms of professionalism. Rio´s Sambadrome was inaugurated in 1984 and short after, large companies in Brazil started to promote their brands investing in VIP boxes and luxury suites.

Below, Giselle Bundchen that will parade for Vila Isabel Samba School in 2011:

Brazil carnival celebrities


Some of the international celebrities that visited the Brazilian Carnival in Rio include: Prince Charles, Calvin Klein, Mick Jagger, Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel, Lucy Liu, Prince Charles, Naomi Campbel, Linda Evangelista, Gerard Depardieu, Kevin Spacey, Matthew McConaughey, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Quincy Jones, Anna Kournikova to name a few. Some of the Brazilian international celebrities include Pelé, Gisele Bundchen, model Camila Alves, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Romário. Also, U2´s Bono Vox visited Bahia´s Carnival in 2006.


Who was Cartola? Brazil Carnival Frequently Asked Questions

Cartola: Samba & Carnival Legend Short Biography


Angenor de Oliveira, known as Cartola (Portuguese for top hat), was a Brazilian singer, composer and poet considered to be one of the best figures in samba and Brazilian carnival development.  He got his nickname because he used a bowler hat while working as a construction worker so the cement would not dirty his hair.

Cartola was born in Rio de Janeiro, in a borough called Catete, but spent his childhood in the neighborhood of Laranjeiras.   Due to financial difficulties, the large family moved to Mangueira hill, where a small favela was beginning to appear.   In Mangueira, Cartola soon befriended Carlos Cachaça and other sambistas, getting started in the world of malandragem and samba. In 1928, they founded the Arengueiros Carnival Block, which would later transform in the traditional samba school Estação Primeira de Mangueira, one of the most loved samba-schools in Brazil.  Cartola is considered responsible for the choice of colors of the school, which are said to stem from the colors of football club Fluminense, which is located in Laranjeiras.

Cartola became popular in the 1930s, with many sambas recorded at that time.  In the beginning of his carrier, Creusa Cartola, his daughter, adopted when she was five years old, was extremely important in launching him as composer, as she was a singer of extremely persuasive voice, singing his sambas in radio programs of this decade. Later, in the 1940s, Cartola disappeared from the scene.  Little is known about that time in Cartola's life, when he departed from Mangueira after disagreements and became depressed with the death of his wife Deolinda; about that time, rumours about his death were speculated.  

Cartola Album


Cartola was found, in a very popular tale, by journalist Sérgio Porto in 1956, working as a car-washer.  Porto took charge of starting to promote Cartola's return, inviting him to radio shows and divulging his work with new partners.  Later, in 1963, investing in his struggle to take the favelas' samba to the city streets, Cartola opened together with Eugênio Agostine and his wife Dona Zica the famous Zicartola bar/restaurant in downtown Rio de Janeiro, which became known as the most important samba establishment of that time, providing a link between the traditional sambistas and the incipient Bossa Nova movement.  Cartola invited people such as Nélson Cavaquinho, Pixinguinha, Nara Leão, Paulinho da Viola, and Zé Ketti to sing the "low-value" music, as sambistas ironically referred to their work.

Cartola's real commercial success started in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when he became quite popular and a lot of samba classics were released, such as "O Sol Nascerá", "O Mundo é Um Moinho", "Corra e Olhe o Céu", "Quem me vê Sorrindo" and "Senhora Tentação", with support from singers Elizeth Cardoso, Clara Nunes, Paulinho da Viola and especially Beth Carvalho.  He released his first record only at the age of 66, in 1974, and even living in financial difficulties, composed and sang until his death at age 72.  Cartola composed, alone or with partners, more than 500 songs and is considered one of Brazil´s most important Samba and Carnival founders.

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