My best Rio Carnival moment of 2013

I know I know, carnival is over – just accept it and move on… Well I’m not ready to move on! Back in 2012 I told you about my best moment of the carnival that year (just an entire carnival bloco invading the airport – if you haven’t seen it then don’t miss the video). This year’s carnival moment was perhaps not quite so dramatic, but as an example of the spirit of Rio carnival, it’s hard to beat.


The Google Maps Markers! The markers were actually joined by a rope which made for some interesting manoeuvring!


One thing I’m struck by each year at carnival is how often I see the same people at multiple blocos. One of us will nudge the other and go “Look, it’s those Google Maps Markers again” or “Check it out! It’s that girl in the monkey suit from yesterday!”. Well one team I saw both during carnival 2012 and also at several blocos this year were noticeable because of a sign they held: Ceará Livre!:

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Carnival Costumes

One of the things I like most about Carnaval de Rua (the free street carnival, as opposed to the paid procession at the Sambadrome) is the dressing up. And from the looks of it, I’m not the only one! Of course there are the classic costumes that show up every year (about 50% of all carnival photos will contain at least one pirate), but some people really go to town.

Today I thought I’d show you a few of the fantasias (way cooler then the English term I grew up with, ‘fancy dress’) that caught my eye this year. Let’s start off with Watermelon Man! Sure, anyone can put a watermelon on their head, but the shirt, cape and arm ‘protectors’ take this outfit up a level.

Watermelon Man

Simple, effective and, well, a bit mushy on the head I guess.


Next we get a bit naughty!

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Carnival Songs: Cabeleira do Zezé

Carnival is just a few weeks away people! Time to start thinking about your fantasia, planning which blocos you’re going to attend and of course, learn some more marchinhas de carnaval!

Today’s song is super catchy, but it has also got me feeling a little perplexed. Perhaps I’m being naïve or simply ‘not getting it’ (wouldn’t be the first time!), but there seems to be a bit of a bullying, homophobic aspect to this song.

The title of the song is Cabeleira do Zezé and it was written by João Roberto Kelly (and Roberto Faissal) back in the early 1960s.



João Roberto Kelly, cheeky looking chap, responsible for more than one cheeky carnival tune! I notice his hair wasn’t exactly small…


Kelly was born in Rio in 1938. In 1964, aged just 24, he had huge success with today’s song when it was recorded by Jorge Goulart. We’ll hear Jorge sing the song in a moment, but before that, let’s have a quick look at the lyrics and maybe you’ll get an idea of why I’m a little perplexed.

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Carnival Kids

I’ve been going to a suspiciously large number of birthday parties recently. And now that I think of it, there are a suspiciously large number birthday parties coming up in the next couple of weeks. Hmmm… all very suspicious.

Perhaps a detective would go to the calendar and look for notable events that occurred 9 months ago. I, however, prefer to look forward and remind you all that in 3 months it will be carnival!


carnival paulinho da viola

Woohoo! A pre-carnival bloco held earlier this year in honour of Paulinho da Viola‘s 70th Birthday.


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8 line brag

Anyone object to a little bragging? C’mon, indulge me: those of you who follow the Eat Rio Facebook page will already know that yesterday’s post was picked up by the news! Australian news site, NineMSN, have an article on their World News page which is basically a cut down version of yesterday’s post! As I speak we are the fourth most popular item on the entire site – exciting right?


Whatever Gillard - you may "get things done", but we invaded an airport! Think about it - I know who I'd vote for...


Two things stem from all this – firstly I’d like to welcome any new visitors that may have popped over from NineMSN – g’day. Secondly, now that I’m famous (yes, I said ‘famous’ – my name is mentioned four times in the article) I’d appreciate a little more respect from my regular readers – all four of you.

OK, that’s enough bragging for now – a proper post will follow shortly.

My best ever carnival experience.

Hi everyone! Well, what an extraordinary week. It dawned on me quite early on that trying to combine carnival with blogging would end up in a sub-optimal carnival experience for me, and a sub-optimal blog reading experience for you. Better to just concentrate on having as much fun as possible for a few days and then tell you all about it afterwards. Let’s think of it as intensive research shall we?

Some of the blocos have great names. This one, which started at the top of a steep hill in Catete, was called "Desce Mas Não Sobe" (Goes down but doesn't go up). Of course WE had to go up to get to the start...


This past week flew past in a blur of music, drinking, dancing and general carnival fun. Each carnival day (in fact each bloco) has its own personality – different music and locations, different mixes of friends, chance encounters – all these things contribute different highlights (and the occasional low-point – more on this another day).  Well this year, one specific moment stood out, and I’ve been dying to tell you all about it!


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Carnival Songs: Vou Festejar

One of the things I like most about carnival in Rio, is how inclusive it is. There is no entrance fee for any of the blocos, the beer is cheap, you don’t have to wear a fancy costume and there are no complicated dance moves that you need to learn. In short, even a clueless gringo like me can show up and have a great time.


Chapeuzinho Vermelho (Little Red Riding Hood) and friends having fun. A guy on a fire truck was spraying the crowd with water when I took this shot, causing the autofocus on my point-and-click to go AWOL. I quite like the effect.


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Top 5 tips for Carnival costume

Having had a little time to think about it, I realised that the one thing I didn’t do in yesterday’s post is differentiate between blocos and the main procession thing that everyone thinks of when they hear “Carnival in Rio”. The big procession thing is called Desfile das Escolas de Samba (Procession of the Samba Schools). It’s the thing you see on the news each year, held in the Sambadrome – a big long street, lined with masses of tiered seating:


The main procession, as seen here in the film Rio


I haven’t been to this thing – tickets are really expensive and to be honest, I’m not that keen. Don’t get me wrong, it looks spectacular and I definitely want to see it one day, but just sitting there watching from the side seems a bit passive, you know? Maybe I’ll go in a few years when I’m older and richer.

So if you’re not at the Sambadrome, you should be at a bloco, and if you’re at a bloco then you should have an outfit!

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What’s a ‘Bloco’ and what should I expect?

Hooray! Carnaval (that’s the Portuguese spelling) season is well and truly under way! I’ve been posting up a few photos from the bloco I went to last Sunday on the Eat Rio Facebook page, but I think it’s time I said a little more about this quintessentially Brazilian festival.

Timoneiras da Viola - the bloco I visited last Sunday. It was great!


The main days of Carnaval are from Friday to Tuesday – the exact date changes each year. This year it will run from 17th-21st February (check out the dates for future years here). I say “main days” because Carnaval actually kicked off weeks ago!

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