Crazy Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Brazil’s Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Hmm… Let me begin by saying I’m not a fan of Latin music so I knew that there were parts of Carnival that would be cumbersome. And, I don’t like huge crowds. Some would say why go to Carnival then? Well, I’ve always wanted to go, I mean, it’s the biggest official party on earth with a million tourists joining a million Brazilian citizens. The main attraction is the parade, which lasts for two days for a total of eight hours each day. It is the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen and that was with me watching it on TV; I can’t imagine what it looks like in person. They even had a float with a mini ski hill and two snowboarders. I really wanted to see it but I had only decided to go to Brazil in mid January and tickets sold out last fall. One day I’d like to return and take my children to see it. I will definitely be back.

It’s amazing to see the joie de vivre of the Brazilian people, their love of samba and of dancing; in fact there were children as young as four dancing the samba well and children’s dance competitions in North America have nothing on these kids. “Blocos” (block parties) happened every afternoon and evening and the bands often walked through the streets with thousands of people following them, stopping every block or so to have an impromptu on the spot party. The music was loud, the people were dancing and hearing thousands of Brazilians singing the words to a song in Portuguese was something I’ll never forget.  

But, boy was it ever hot. Temperatures reached 41C/106F and I don’t know how people do it in this weather. I was rehydrating all the time, soaking myself in water to keep from being affected by heat stroke. Plenty of beverages were available with water at $1CAD/btl, beer at $2CAD/tall can and Smirnoff Ice at $2/can. You’d even see vendors walking around with tequila shots, limes and salt, so cool. (Photo: My friend George from Toronto and his wife, Valesca). 

What I didn’t realize about Carnival is that it is the largest costume party on earth; essentially it is Halloween without the trick or treating. I’ve never seen such elaborate and zany costumes, nor so many straight men in dresses. It is the best place to people watch and you meet a lot of people, take a lot of photos and dance throughout the night, if so inclined. I went to a few parties but also abstained, sometimes I just needed some time alone. One party I found intriguing but decided to miss was the Beatles themed samba party. Can’t begin to imagine “Hey Jude” samba style!

Rio de Janeiro Carnival Clowns

Rio de Janeiro Carnival Clowns

Wondering when Carnival happens each year? It is always 40 days before Easter, coinciding with Lent, in fact, it is customary for many Cariocans (people from Rio) to stop drinking after Carnival. I am definitely taking a break and am headed to the beach on Ilha Grande, located a few hours drive from Rio.

There is probably a lot more I could say about Carnival if I had done it to its max. Maybe I’m past that point, maybe hot, sweaty crowds just don’t do it for me anymore, maybe it was the company I kept and maybe this “not liking samba music thing” impacted me more than I thought it would. However, I still think it’s something that should be experienced and I would definitely do it again with friends from home. We would not miss the parade and I’d scale it up a notch, find some more VIP events. I also would like to do Salvador’s Carnival in the same manner and have been invited next year to do it cruise style on one of the many cruises that go between Rio and Salvador and experience Carnival itself on shore in Salvador. But, I think I’ll save it for another time though…so many places in the world to go. 

I’d love to hear about your Carnival experience? Or, if you haven’t been, is it always something you have wanted to experience?

5 Responses to Crazy Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

  1. Hey, Julie. Let me know next year if you are going and i surely would like to go. I missed the carnival in 2004, so, i think next year will be the year to go.

    Francesca Ang February 26, 2012 at 6:16 PM Reply
    • Hey honey…will do but I’ll likely be in New Zealand for New Years and travelling in the area until end of Feb. Xoxo

      juliemunsch February 26, 2012 at 6:24 PM Reply
  2. Your looking like your having a blast! Stay safe and keep the updates going!

    Roger February 27, 2012 at 11:51 AM Reply
  3. Amazing! Sounds like so much fun!

    Christina Mayer February 29, 2012 at 3:50 PM Reply
  4. I love Carnival in Rio… I hope you all have enjoyed 😉

    Chaserlogist March 2, 2012 at 2:36 AM Reply

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