How to enjoy Rio carnival

Rio carnival (carnaval in Portuguse) is the biggest of it’s kind in the world – it draws two million people onto the streets daily. But what is it? And how can you get the most out of the experience?

Dating back to 1723, this city-wide, five day party has become synonymous with carefree fun and exuberance – one of the things to do at least once in your lifetime. But like most other things related to this city (and Brazil in general), Rio carnival is not something that can be easily explained in a sentence or two – there are many aspects and intricacies not immediately obvious to the casual observer.

I’m not going to be able to tell you everything about Rio carnival here, but what follows will hopefully help you understand what’s on offer and how you can best enjoy the experience.

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The best things about Rio Carnival 2012

OK, I don’t want to overdo this whole carnival thing – my last non-carnival related post was more than 10 days ago! But can you stand just one more post on the subject? I’ve been looking over my carnival photos and thinking back over the event as a whole and I thought it might be nice to summarise what made this year’s carnival so great.

The Weather

OK, I’m British and therefore more than a little obsessed with the weather, but for me this made a real difference. Last year it rained quite a bit and although I told myself at the time that it was good because it stopped us all getting overheated, I never really believed it in my heart of hearts. This year we had unbroken sunshine all the way through, and you could really sense the lift it gave everyone.

Dancing, drinking, chatting to strangers and generally getting down. It just works better when the sun is out.


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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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