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Visit Rio de Janeiro… During Carnival!

Visit Rio de Janeiro… During Carnival!

Quite simply, it is one of the most touristic events in the world: the Rio carnival is a moment not to be missed in one’s life. Because if it lasts only a few days officially, it really makes the streets of the city dance for several weeks. Colourful, dazzling, sparkling: it’s a moment you can’t miss. So, ready to go?

Rio Carnival, what is it, when is it?

Officially, it only takes place for a few days, just before Ash Wednesday in February. But the reality is quite different: for weeks, in fact, the Cariocas and the inhabitants spend their time dancing and partying in the streets. To the sound of samba and watered by caipirinhas, the parades follow one another until the last official days during which the dance schools go to war.

rio carnival

Of pagan tradition, like most of the other carnivals in the world, that of Rio de Janeiro is well known for its feathers and its colors, but also for its frenzied dances. Very popular, it allows people to mingle without any social distinction and enjoy partying with each other. So, in February, you know where you will be!

What to do in Rio during Carnival?

Marching down the street with the locals

Unlike other parades during which the ceremonies take place in very closed settings, the Rio carnival takes place… in the middle of the street! Indeed, it is traditional for Cariocas and tourists to party in the street, in all neighborhoods. And in this contrasting city, where the very rich and the very poor live, everyone comes together to celebrate together.

carnival street rio janeiro
@Flickr / Rom

The bars open and come alive, also to the rhythm of the samba. The floats parade all day long, richly decorated. The inhabitants, for their part, are generally very attached to their samba school and encourage the participants who come to perform demonstrations in the street. Don’t miss the Aile des Bahianaises, entirely made up of women, for example. In short, it’s a great moment of parades from which you will come out with your head full of music, drums and percussion!

The parades of the samba schools at the sambodrome… and take part in them!

This is THE highlight of the Rio Carnival show: the parade of samba schools in the sambadrome is a mythical moment to see absolutely. During the four official days of Carnival, the different districts of the city are represented every night, according to a very precise order. Starting at six o’clock, they have a very precise time to cover the 800 m long of the iconic place (between 65 and 82 minutes). However, very often, the schools are overflowing and the last to march find themselves doing so at first light, well after the scheduled 6am.

rio sambadrome

Even if it takes place in a place of jubilation, joy and music, the parade at the sambadrome is not a moment to be taken lightly, quite the contrary. Indeed, the schools are in competition and the best is designated at the end of the four days representing a very prized honor. And this tradition almost begins with the bottle: indeed, from Friday, the children parade, before the adults take their place, organized according to very precise groups, in general according to the level. You will not forget this moment, in the heat of Rio, especially since it is possible to participate: the inhabitants like to bring tourists to dance with them. You will be amazed!

Learn the samba do enredo

Each year the carnival has a theme, which is called theenredo. Sometimes classic, other times more eccentric, it is then followed by the inhabitants who have to find disguises that come close to it. But not only: samba schools must also adapt for their choreographies and songs. So each of them creates their own samba do enredoa song that will accompany their parade and their dances.

samba brazil

All the pupils and the inhabitants of the district then learn it by heart. They parade first on these frenzied rhythms before giving way to the different schools of samba in the official sambadrome. To feel like a real Carioca, you will therefore also have to adapt to the song of your neighborhood and even the choreography. Believe us, the experience is completely unforgettable!

Getting ready to party all night

In Rio de Janeiro, not much happens during the day. Indeed, the carnival falling in the middle of summer, it is too hot during the day to party. The festival-goers therefore wait for nightfall to parade through the streets and in the sambadrome where the samba schools take part in the official competition. Life is therefore completely reversed and will force you to live at night anyway. Indeed, the noise can be such (depending on the neighborhood) that it is not possible to sleep. So, let’s party!

carnival party
@Flickr / Rodrigo Dias Tome

You should know that in some neighborhoods, especially Lapa, bars and nightclubs stay open all night. You can have a cocktail there and go dancing with your new Carioca neighbours… It’s a moment that you won’t soon forget and that you won’t see again anywhere else!

Prepare your bathing suit and take a midnight swim!

In Rio de Janeiro, there are magnificent beaches, well known for their size and their thousands of bathers. Copacabana, Ipanema… Two world famous names that make you want to take a dip. And besides, that’s what most festival-goers do when they parade. Every night, hundreds of them take their bathing suits and enjoy partying in the streets to taste the warmth of the water and the Atlantic Ocean.

rio night

Less crowded, the beaches have a very different charm depending on the time you go swimming. So don’t forget to pack an outfit and go for a dip. And don’t worry: the water in Ipanema or Copacabana is hot at all times!

Plan the best costumes

It’s out of the question to let the others parade alone without going dancing with them! Before leaving, plan your best costumes to participate with locals and tourists. A word of advice: the parades start at the beginning of the evening and do not end until the end of the night, it is very important to provide comfortable clothes. On the other hand, for style, only one rule: the more, the better!


Indeed, unlike the classic and heavy costumes of the venice carnival, the clothes of the Cariocas are known for their sequins and their minimalist side. Some are even satisfied with a simple swimsuit! Feather headpieces, make-up and sequined shorts, full of color, are totally in the spirit of the event. And frankly, it will put you in a good mood all day!

How to go to Rio de Janeiro during Carnival?

Flights depart year-round to Rio de Janeiro, particularly Paris. Often quite expensive, they can nevertheless be found at reasonable prices if you look carefully. However, throughout the Carnival period, prices go up rather quickly for several reasons. The first being of course that thousands of revelers come from all over the world to party. And the second, quite important, is that the carnival is at the heart of the Brazilian summer: many tourists therefore take the opportunity to take their holidays during this period.

Where to sleep in Rio de Janeiro during Carnival?

Rio de Janeiro is, in a way, the city of contrasts: from one street to another, you can go from a chic and wealthy neighborhood to a very popular place… even a rather dangerous slum. It is therefore important to choose your place of residence carefully, even during Carnival. If you want a place with luxurious, clean and touristy apartments, do not miss Ipanema. With its very large beach known throughout the world, this area is pleasant. Much more rhythmic and less calm, the Lapa district is a place very popular with partygoers. There are also a lot of bars and restaurants. But hey, get ready: during the Carnival, which takes place every night, we don’t sleep much

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