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How to Experience Rio de Janeiro Carnival

How to Experience Rio de Janeiro Carnival

Visitors who are in Rio during Carnival are treated to five days of flashy costumes, rhythmic samba, and round-the-clock parties. From samba lessons to the Sambadrome parade, here's what you need to know to make the most of the pre-Lent festivities.

When to Go

Carnival occurs each year in the days leading up to Lent (40 days before Easter), typically in February or early March. The big parades at the Sambadrome typically take place on Sunday and Monday evenings, though smaller parades are hosted on Friday, Saturday, and Tuesday as well. Hotels and clubs around town host grand balls, the most famous of which is Saturday's Magic Ball at the Copacabana Palace Hotel on Copacabana Beach.

How to Go

Visitors to beachy Rio have many options for taking in the Carnival festivities. Enjoy the Carnival parade hassle-free with pre-booked tickets and round-trip transportation, go behind the scenes during a rehearsal at a top samba school, or tour the Academicos do Grande Rio's warehouse, where the extravagant parade costumes and floats are stored. While in town, don't miss the chance to see other iconic attractions, like the Christ Redeemer statue and Sugar Loaf Mountain, with an early-access or skip-the-line tour.

Things to Know

  • Rio Carnival falls during Brazilian summer, so pack for warm weather and afternoon showers. Expect an average high of 81°F (27°C) in February.

  • The city gets crowded during Carnival, so save time by taking the metro instead of taxis or buses. To get to the Sambadrome, get off at Praça Onze and walk 15 minutes along the well-signed route to the parade area.

  • If you don't have tickets to an official Carnival ball, you can still take part in one of many blocos,  or Carnival street parties, staged throughout the city.

  • Up to half a million visitors show up for the festivities, so it's a good idea to book well in advance.