Carnaval

Carnival is an annual celebration that embraces the entire country, even a business centre like São Paulo. The celebrations have far more impact on Rio and Brazil and their economies than the Christmas and New Year holidays. Most offices and businesses will close for the week of Carnival.

Carnival is a moveable feast that is tied to the Roman Catholic calendar. It takes place from the Friday prior to Ash Wednesday and continues up to and including Ash Wednesday itself. In some cities and towns, including Rio, the celebrations take over the entire week and the following weekend.

The earliest date carnival can occur is 30 January – 4 February, but that won’t happen until 2285. The latest is 5-10 March, and that will next happen in 2038.

Rio de Janeiro is the most famous and the largest of Brazil’s carnival celebrations. In Rio the focus is on samba and the parade of the samba schools organised by the League of Samba Schools on the Sunday and Monday evenings. Tickets for most major carnival activities in Rio can be reserved in advance through the better tour operators.

Up coming dates for Carnival in Brazil (Friday-Wednesday) are:

  • 2018: 9-14 February
  • 2019: 1-6 March
  • 2020: 21-26 February
  • 2021: 12-17-February
  • 2022: 25 February-2 March
  • 2023: 17-22 February
  • 2024: 9-14 February
  • 2025: 28 February-5 March

The main parades of the Grupo Especial will next take place on the nights of Sunday, 11 February and Monday, 12 February 2018. The schools parading will be:

  • Beija-Flor
  • Grande Rio
  • Imperatriz Leopoldinense
  • Império Serrano
  • Mangueira
  • Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel
  • Paraíso do Tuiuti
  • Portela
  • Salgueiro
  • São Clemente
  • União da Ilha
  • Unidos da Tijuca
  • Vila Isabel

Six schools will parade on Sunday night and six on Monday and they will start at 22.00, 23.05, 00.10, 01.15, 02.20 and 03.25. One extra school will parade on one of the nights in 2018 after no school was relegated in 2017 and Império Serrano were promoted.

16360589957_2ce72316fe_kRio’s carnival is larger, livelier, louder and more incredible than anything one can possibly imagine or explain to you. Even living in Rio for the twelve months prior to carnival is no preparation for what happens in the weeks surrounding the event itself and, despite appearances or what you may have read in magazines and newspapers, Rio’s carnival is not designed to attract foreign tourists, nor is it violent or dangerous. Brazil’s carnival is a genuine national celebration, which for most Brazilians is more important than Christmas, New Year and Easter all rolled into one.

It is the size of carnival that often overwhelms the foreign visitor. It is not an event that is restricted to one area or one social class, but is a celebration, party if you like, that takes over the entire population, and in Rio that means a city that is one of the ten largest in the world.

To survive and enjoy carnival in Rio you are probably going to need al lot of stamina, a fair amount of money and a touch of good humour when not everything goes to plan.

But what is carnival in Rio?

Well, other than the general air of madness and goodwill that pervades the city, carnival in Rio has three main ingredients and they are the parade, the balls and the ever more important street carnival.

This amazing tilt shift video, The City of Samba by Keith Loutit and Jarbas Agnelli will give you a little taste of the Rio carnival parade, even in the rain, and the city itself.

Based on the results of the last eight carnivals (2010-2017), the League of Samba Schools (LIESA) ranks the top ten samba schools in Rio de Janeiro as:

  1. Unidos da Tijuca (110 points)
  2. Beija-Flor (95)
  3. Salgueiro (91)
  4. Portela (66)
  5. Mangueira (59)
  6. Grande Rio (59)
  7. Unidos de Vila Isabel (58)
  8. Imperatriz Leopoldinense (44)
  9. Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel (37)
  10. União da Ilha do Governador (20)

The results of Rio’s Carnival Parade in 2017 were:

  • Portela (269.9 points out of 270)
  • Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel (269.9 points out of 270)
  • Salgueiro (269.7)
  • Mangueira (269.6)
  • Grande Rio (269.4)
  • Beija-Flor (269.2)
  • Imperatriz Leopoldinense (268,5)
  • União da Ilha (267.8)
  • Vila Isabel (267.4)
  • São Clemente (267.4)
  • Unidos da Tijuca (266.8)
  • Paraíso do Tuiuti (264.6)
screen-shot-2017-03-01-at-22-19-48

Portela, joint champions of 2017 with Mocidade

and in 2016

  • Mangueira (269.8 points out of 270)
  • Unidos da Tijuca (269.7)
  • Portela (269.7)
  • Salgueiro (269.5)
  • Beija-Flor (269.3)
  • Imperatriz Leopoldinense (269.2)
  • Grande Rio (268.7)
  • Vila Isabel (267.9)
  • São Clemente (267.8)
  • Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel (266.5)
  • União da Ilha (265.8)
  • Estácio de Sá (265.0)
Mangueira, champions in 2016

Mangueira, champions in 2016

and in 2015

  • Beija-Flor (269.9 points out of 270)
  • Salgueiro (269.5)
  • Grande Rio (269.0)
  • Portela (269.0)
  • Unidos da Tijuca (269.0)
  • Imperatriz Leopoldinense (268.9)
  • Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel (268.5)
  • São Clemente (268.4)
  • União da Ilha do Governador (267.2)
  • Mangueira (267.1)
  • Unidos de Vila Isabel (266.2)
  • Viradouro (263.7)

For images of the 2015 parade CLICK HERE

Beija Flor, champions in 2015

Beija Flor, champions in 2015

and in 2014…

  • Unidos da Tijuca (299.4 points out of 300)
  • Salgueiro (299.3)
  • Portela (299.0)
  • União da Ilha do Governador (298.4)
  • Imperatriz Leopoldinense (297.6)
  • Grande Rio (297.20)
  • Beija-Flor (296.4)
  • Mangueira (296.2)
  • Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel (296.0)
  • Unidos de Vila Isabel (295.9)
  • São Clemente (294.3)
  • Imperio da Tijuca (291.6)
Unidos da Tijuca, the winning school in 2014

Unidos da Tijuca, the winning school in 2014

and in 2013…

  • Unidos de Vila Isabel (299.7 points out of 300)
  • Beija-Flor (299,4)
  • Unidos da Tijuca (299.2)
  • Imperatriz Leopoldinense (298.3)
  • Salgueiro (297.9)
  • Grande Rio (297.20)
  • Portela (296.6)
  • Mangueira (296.5)
  • União da Ilha do Governador (294.4)
  • São Clemente (293.5)
  • Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel (293.5)
  • Inocentes de Belford Roxo (291.1)
Sambodromo in Rio de Janeiro

Sambodromo in Rio de Janeiro

Vila Isabel, the winning samba school in 2013.

Vila Isabel, the winning samba school in 2013.

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Christopher Pickard – Rio the Guide – Critical Divide
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