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15 Things you NEED to Know Before Attending Carnival in Brazil

15 Things you NEED to Know Before Attending Carnival in Brazil

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Attending Carnival is one of the highlights of visiting Brazil! It’s a unique and amazing experience you have to see to believe.

Carnival is the country’s largest annual celebration, where you get to party like there’s no tomorrow while immersing yourself in an explosion of culture, music, and dance.

Carnival has a somewhat legendary status around the world. It’s a time for celebration and revelry; a time when cities become one huge party. The festivities mark the beginning of Lent and the last opportunity to indulge before the period of fasting and reflection.

If it sounds like a lot of fun, well, that’s because it is! Whether you’re backpacking through Brazil or planning a trip just to experience Carnival, it’s an incredible experience to be in the country for.

But before you join the party, there are a few things you need to keep in mind to make sure your experience is the best it can be. We’ve been lucky enough to celebrate carnival in Brazil, so we can’t wait to share all we know with you!

1. What is Carnival in Brazil?

Dancers in red in the sambadrome in rio de janeiro brazil
A performance at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Carnival in Brazil is an annual celebration held on the Friday afternoon before Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of Lent. Lent is the period of fasting and reflection when Christians traditionally gave up meat and other treats in the lead-up to Easter. Therefore, Carnival is seen as the final chance to overindulge in food and drink before this begins.

It’s one of the biggest and most vibrant carnivals in the world, attracting millions of visitors each year!

The event is a mix of music, dance, food, and parades. There are street parties, raves, and live concerts all over the country.

There are lots of different types of celebrations, as well as pre-and post-Carnival parties. In fact, Carnival celebrations in Brazil begin as easily as a month before the actually Carnival date. People typically dress up in colorful and flamboyant costumes, and the atmosphere is really exciting.

Local folklore plays a significant role in the festivities and you can also learn a lot about Brazilian culture and history as you party. Customs vary according to region and city, but the Brazilian spirit of joy and celebration is universal.

2. When is Carnival held in Brazil?

Bailey in the streets of Rio during Carnival
Carnival is the craziest party I have ever been to!

Since Easter dates vary from year-to-year, Carnival dates also change.

Generally speaking, Carnival is held in February or March; the exact dates are announced a few years in advance. Although Carnival is always on a Friday, the celebrations go on until Tuesday, which is Mardi Gras!

There are also pre-parties and after-parties, so the whole Carnival period usually lasts for a couple of weeks altogether. This means that even if you aren’t in Brazil on the exact date of Carnival, you can still join in on some of the festivities, which are mostly held on weekends.

3. Where in Brazil can you celebrate Carnival?

Daniel and Bailey on the streets of Salvador, Brazil during a Carnival parade
Carnival in Salvador!

Carnival is celebrated all over Brazil and festivities vary across the country, but wherever you go, it’s guaranteed to be a good time!

Rio

Rio de Janeiro is the most famous Carnival destination, and it’s easy to see why. This is one of the top Latin American cities to see and every year, 2 million people take to the streets of this vibrant city to celebrate.

There’s a huge Samba parade that takes place in the Sambadrome on the Sunday and Monday of Carnival, including a couple of pre-shows on the days leading up, during which around 8,000 performers dance down the parade route passing through specially designed floats. Samba schools in Rio also compete against each other in spectacular dance competitions, which are a must-see.

Street parties take place all over the city, with marching bands and lots of partygoers. There are also masquerades and formal balls, but the real fun is out on the street!

São Paulo

Another popular destination for Carnival is São Paulo, which is known for its incredible street parties and vibrant atmosphere. The samba parades and street parties are just as decadent as in Rio, but the city is less touristy and there are more opportunities to experience authentic culture.

São Paulo has its own distinct style of samba, which is known as the ‘samba of work’, and just like Rio, the city has its own Sambadrome where you can watch different schools competing against one another.

Some of the best samba street parties can be found in the Bantanta, Banda do Trem, and Bixiga neighborhoods, but if you want to escape the hustle and bustle, smaller celebrations can be enjoyed in the villages and towns on the outskirts of the city.

Salvador

Carnival in Salvador has strong African influences. This is because a large portion of its population is of African descent and they have reclaimed the festival. Once, Carnival was an all-white event in Salvador, but that’s no longer the case.

The Ilê Aiyê Afro-Bloco carnival group worked hard to reclaim Carnival and make it a celebration of Afro-Brazilian culture. They have a prominent role in the celebrations and wear eye-catching traditional costumes and jewelry. Their performances and parades reference and celebrate their heritage, with the aim of raising the self-esteem of Afro-Brazilians and promoting racial equality.

The Carnival here is less focused on samba and more about street parties and parades. You’ll hear lots of Axe, which is an Afro-Brazilian style of samba, and lots of drumming. It’s a vibrant, colorful event and there are plenty of open-air concerts, impromptu parades, and parties going on throughout the city.

Excitement for Carnival builds up early in Salvador; in fact, from New Year’s Eve onwards, there are several events that are loosely related until the official opening on the Thursday preceding Ash Wednesday.

Related read: Salvador is also home to some of the best beaches in Brazil!

Florianopolis

Florianopolis is located on Santa Catarina Island. It’s a coastal city with beaches, mountains, and forests. And really, does anything sound better than celebrating carnival on a beautiful beach?

The main Carnival event in Florianopolis is the grand parade at the Sambadrome. It starts at midnight with a glorious firework display and then samba schools perform until 4 am, but the party doesn’t end there. Eventually, everyone gets up and starts dancing!

There’s also an LGBT Carnival which is a ton of fun. The Pop Gay competition takes place on Carnival Saturday, during which transgender artists and drag queens compete in elaborate performances, watched by a crowd of over 50,000 people from all over the world. There’s also a popular party along the Mole beachfront, and lots of other events around town.

4. Where is the BEST place to celebrate Carnival?

Sambadrome in rio de janeiro Brazil during 2019 celebration
You can’t beat Rio!

It has to be Rio de Janeiro. It’s a spectacular city with a unique culture and vibrant atmosphere, and Carnival is the perfect time to visit. In fact, Carnival here is often referred to as “the Greatest Show on Earth”, which says it all, really.

Not only are there incredible samba parades, but there are also outrageous street parties (known as blocos) and masquerade balls.

In Rio, it’s almost like there are two versions of Carnival that take place at once: the extravagant samba parade in the city’s Sambadrome, and the many street parties, each of which has its own theme and feel. 

There’s something for every kind of partygoer in Rio, so you get to have a well-rounded experience of Carnival, combining the more commercial celebrations with authentic local ones. We once celebrated Carnival in Rio and it was nothing short of outstanding.

The Rio Carnival dates back to the 1650s, so they’ve really got it down to a fine art in this city. Back then, Carnival took place in the form of feasts that were intended for Bacchus, the Greek god of wine who was known for his wild revelry.

Later on, Entrudo, a European street carnival, was introduced by the Portuguese, and the two traditions combined to form something akin to the world-famous celebration that takes place today. The first masquerade in Rio took place in 1840, with polka and waltz dancing.

Afro-Brazilians also began to influence Carnival, too, and Samba music was introduced in 1917. We probably don’t need to tell you that Samba is now the centerpiece of Carnival in Rio and a quintessential Brazilian cultural staple.

And so, for those reasons and many more, Rio de Janeiro has to be the best place to experience Carnival in Brazil. 

Watching the famous parade at the Sambadrome really is a mind-blowing experience. You can’t even really imagine the level of creativity and passion that goes into it until you see it yourself. It’s truly a unique spectacle and something you’ll never forget, so don’t skip it!

How do you buy tickets to the Sambadrome in Rio?

The Sambadrome is a long, narrow stadium built especially for Carnival parades, with tiered seating on both sides. The Sambadrome celebration is the main event of Carnival in Rio and it’s truly not to be missed.

It’s best to buy tickets online in advance. Once they sell out, you may be able to still purchase them but you’ll have to buy them from ticket scalpers, who really hike up the prices.

If you want to secure a seat, you can purchase a Sambradrome ticket here. There are several options to choose from with basic tickets in the grandstand starting at only $30 USD. Those tickets also include a subway pass, so your transportation is taken care of too.

You can also buy front-row Sambradrome seats for an unforgettable Carnival experience! You’ll have the best view in the house. Plus the $95 USD tickets also include shuttle pick-up and drop-off at your hotel so you don’t have to navigate public transit, which can be a bit of a nightmare on busy festival nights.

When you’re buying your tickets, you’ll see different “sectors” available in the grandstands of the Sambradrome. Front box tickets will put you at ground level and closest to the parade. Sectors 2-4 are higher up and will also give you a view of the backstage areas. Sectors 5-11 are in the center of the Sambadrome and have awesome views. Note that only Sector 9 offers numbered seats, so it tends to sell out quickly.

In this case, even the cheapest seats are great! Being in the grandstand allows you to get up and party with your fellow Carnival-goers, which is a key part of the experience.

It is often possible to book tickets through your hostel once you arrive, but this is a bit of a risky strategy because they may have sold out, and then you’ll be forced to pay some ridiculously inflated prices. We say the sooner you book your tickets, the better! Look for tickets online here!

Related read: If you’re traveling on a budget, check out our money-saving tips for Carnival in Rio!

Where to stay for Carnival in Rio

The view of the pool and Copacabana Beach at PortoBay Rio de Janeiro
PortoBay Rio de Janeiro Hotel in Cop[acabana! Photo credit – PortoBay Rio de Janeiro

There are a couple of key areas to stay in Rio for Carnival, and they all offer something different.

Santa Teresa/Lapa

Lapa is the party hub of Rio and the Santa Teresa neighborhood is right next door, so this is an ideal place to stay during Carnival.

We stayed in Santa Teresa and the bloco parties were absolutely amazing. The Carmelitas Blocos host the parties in this area, and they dress up as nuns for the occasion, referencing the story of a nun who escaped her convent to join in the Carnival fun.

Unfortunately, accommodation does tend to get pretty pricey in Rio during Carnival due to the high demand, but we’ve found a few options that won’t break the bank.

If you’re looking for a fun and friendly hostel in this neighborhood, Mambembe Hostel is clean and comfy with a range of private rooms and dorm beds starting at around $30 USD per person per night.

Or if you’d prefer to stay in a hotel, Sant’ Matre is a lovely hotel that costs $105 USD per room and includes breakfast, so it’s not a bad deal if you’re sharing.

Meanwhile, Casa Igba is a B&B offering a pretty good deal at $63 USD per night for a room, and it offers great views of the city center and Guanabara Bay.

Copacabana

Yup, the very same Copacabana that Barry Manilow was singing about! This is one of the best-known areas of the city, but for that reason, the bloco parties can be incredibly crowded – we definitely preferred the ones in Santa Teresa.

However, if you’re keen to be close to the beach and the busiest parties, Pura Vida Hostel is a great place to go. There’s a very young, friendly vibe here, and dorm beds start from around $17 USD per night – although as we say, prices tend to inflate a lot during Carnival.

The Windsor Copa Hotel is located 300 meters away from the beach and costs $146 USD per night during Carnival.

Luxury travelers should stay at PortoBay Rio de Janeiro. It’s a 4-star beachfront hotel with a rooftop pool, gym, spa, and sauna. If you want you can book a room with a sea view for around $200 USD. It is within walking distance of shops, restaurants, and popular bars. The on-site La Finestra restaurant serves really delicious Brazilian dishes as well as other international cuisine. The complementary breakfast buffet has fresh fruits, juices, and hot and cold choices.

It’s always a good idea to book your accommodation far in advance if you’re attending Carnival in Rio, but especially if you’re staying in the Copacabana area because it’s just so popular.

Ipanema

Ipanema is another iconic beachfront neighborhood, and the Banda de Ipanema is one of the largest carnival blocks, so it’s really at the heart of the action. In fact, it’s estimated that as many as 20,000 people per day head to Ipanema to dance in the street during Carnival.

Dorm beds at the Ipanema Club Hostel start from $17 USD per night, or if you’re traveling in a group you can get a family room with a private bathroom starting at $91 USD.

Meanwhile, Hotel Vermont Ipanema is close to the beach and includes a great buffet breakfast, with rooms that start from $108 USD per night.

Leblon

Leblon is another beach neighborhood, so if you stay here you can actually enjoy festivities on the sand. There’s a great vibe at the Leblon Beach parties and a huge selection of bars and restaurants to choose from.

Hostel Leblon is a popular choice within the area, with a bar, friendly staff, and a great atmosphere. Dorm beds usually start at around $20 USD per night while privates begin at $75 USD, but again, make sure to book well in advance.

If you’re looking for a more luxurious option, check out the Sheraton. Although pricey, it is seriously beautiful and would be an idyllic escape from the hustle and bustle of Carnival. Come back your hotel pool and just relax!

Related read: While in Rio, don’t miss visiting the iconic Christ de Redeemer statue!

5. How do you celebrate Carnival in Brazil?

Daniel takes a selfie in the crowds of Carnival Brazil
The bloco parties are the best!

The Bloco Parties

Blocos are the heart and soul of Carnival in Brazil. 

A bloco is basically a giant street party, with people dressed up in costumes, playing the drums, and dancing their way through the streets. Blocos can be found all over Brazil during Carnival, and they often follow a large van called a trio electrico, from which there is a live performance.

Blocos can be traced back to the 1720s when Portuguese immigrants would take to the street and enjoy a giant water fight. Later on, the festivities evolved. As aristocratic parades became an integral part of Carnival, working-class people also began hosting their own street parties, dressing up, and playing music. Different neighborhoods formed their own blocos and today, there are over 250 official blocos in Rio alone.

Blocos start a few weeks before Carnival and continue after the Samba parades end. They’re so much fun; you can feel the energy and happiness everywhere you go, and each party has its own unique spin.

Sambadrome

The Sambadrome is the main event of Carnival in Brazil, and it’s an absolute must-see. In Rio, it’s a 570-meter (1,870-foot) long stadium that was built especially for the Samba parades in the 1980s, but it also houses a primary school below, which is pretty cool.

If you’re in Rio for Carnival, watching the performance on Sunday or Monday night at the Sambadrome is a must. It truly is a mind-blowing experience and you won’t find a show like this anywhere else in the world.

If you’re not familiar with Samba, this is considered one of the most energetic and fun dances in the world! It can be done with a partner or alone and honestly, you’ll find yourself moving to the catchy music before you know it.

Samba music’s roots go back to the culture and traditions brought to Brazil by African slaves, but the Samba music that we recognize today really took off in popularity in Rio in the early 1900s. Before long, it became the type of music that Carnival was known for!

When you head to the Sambadrome, you don’t just sit and watch passively – everyone dresses up and gets up and dances. It’s a really special, electric atmosphere that you have to experience for yourself.

The best way to guarantee you can experience the highlight of Carnival is to buy a Sambadrome ticket in advance. They are as cheap as $30 USD if you buy ahead of time and this ticket even includes your subway pass too!

If you want the BEST view in the Sambadrome, splurge a little on incredible front-row seats! Not only that, for the $95 USD price tag you’ll avoid the crazy busy public transit with a private shuttle. Bonus!

Samba schools in Rio practice throughout the year for their performance, and they’re as popular as the city’s soccer teams.

Some of the most famous Samba schools to look out for are:

  • Imperatriz, who has won 8 championships
  • Portela, the team with the most wins
  • Uniao de Ilha, known for their great rapport with the audience
  • Beija-Flor, who have won 14 parades
  • Grand Rio, the 2022 champion

When Carnival is not in session, you can visit these schools and attend their Samba nights, usually for free.

Sāo Paolo also has a Sambadrome, and while it’s not as famous as the iconic one in Rio, it has also attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors every year with its magical performances since its construction in 1991.

Dancers in the sambadrome in rio de janeiro brazil
The Sambadrome is also a super fun experience!

Parades

Salvador in particular, is known for its parades. Each block is given a designated start and end time for its parade, and then it dissolves into a dispersão, which is more of a free-for-all party where there are often additional performances.

There are two main circuits along which the parades take place: the Campo Grande circuit and the Barra-Ondina circuit. Along these routes, you’ll find amazing parades and exciting street parties.

There’s also the Batatinha circuit, which is more of a religious, family-oriented affair. This is a great cultural experience but there’s not as much of a party atmosphere here as there is with the other two circuits.

6. Is celebrating Carnival in Brazil safe?

Large crowd at a bloco party in Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
It’s easy to get pick pocketed in the crowds!

Hmm.

You shouldn’t have any major problems while celebrating Carnival and violent crime is pretty low during this time of year.

However, you do need to be cautious about theft in particular. Don’t make yourself a target for thieves by wearing fancy clothes and jewelry, or carrying large amounts of cash. Essentially, only bring out what you’re willing to lose because large crowds are hotbeds for pickpockets and scam artists.

It’s also important to stay hydrated and make sure you know how to get back to your hotel or hostel if you get lost. Stay in a group and don’t wander off alone. This is why staying in a hostel is such a great idea, because you can meet new people and all head out to party together. There’s definitely safety in numbers.

And by all means, have a drink, but definitely don’t get blackout drunk.

We didn’t really have any problems while we celebrated Carnival, but we certainly spotted dodgy-looking groups of people that we wanted to stay away from, and this could be pretty intimidating if you’re by yourself.

So there’s no reason to freak out, but do keep your wits about you and exercise caution.

Related read: For more helpful info, check out our South America safety tips before you book your flight.

7. Are there tours available to experience Carnival in Brazil?

A crowd of people at a bloco party in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
So much fun!

Yes! From tours spanning a few days to ones that will get you backstage or even give you the chance to be in the iconic parade, there’s something for everyone. We personally never did a tour, but, we have traveled a ton in Brazil and feel much more comfortable than most. We also have Brazilian friends to lead the way.

If you’re new to Brazil and just want to enjoy your travels instead of having to plan and worry about everything, consider booking one of these top-rated tours below.

4-Day Carnival tour in Rio

Pack in everything you could possibly want to experience with this 4-day Rio Carnival tour. You’ll attend fun block parties, watch the parade in the Sambadrome, take a cruise through Guanabara Bay, see some of Rio’s best sights, and even take a samba class.

This is perfect for solo travelers or anyone wanting to have some help planning the best experiences. You’ll have a guide with you for extra safety and to make sure you don’t miss out on the incredible party that is Carnival!

One of the highlights has to be the chance to be part of the parade! You’ll even get a costume and your make-up done by a professional make-up artist. How cool is that?!?

The tour includes 3 nights at a hotel, some food and drinks, and a huge list of incredible experiences for $1,127 USD. Book it online now before it sells out!

6-Day Carnival tour

If you have a couple of extra days to spend in Rio, this 6-day Carnival tour includes a great mix of parties, beach time, and sightseeing. You’ll be completely immersed in the rhythms and atmosphere of Carnival from the moment you arrive and take a samba class on your first day!

You’ll join in a parade if you want (with costumes delivered to your hotel!) or you can hit the streets to start partying. You’ll get to experience some of the top blocos in Rio including Céu na Terra and Sergeant Pepper’s Bloco, where drinks and water pistols are included!

You’ll also visit Copacabana Beach, the statue of Christ the Redeemer, get a cable car ride up Sugarloaf mountain, and have tickets in Sections 12-13 of the Sambadrome to see the show. You’ll be near the end of the runway – known to be a lively section full of abandoned costumes you can grab after the parade!

The incredible tour includes 5 nights at a Rio hotel, some meals, and a huge list of activities for $1,127 USD.

Carnival parade and costume experience in Rio

What better way to experience Carnival in Rio than being part of the iconic parade in the Sambadrome! On this 8-hour tour, you’ll get to dress up in an intricately designed costume and dance along in one of the biggest events in Rio.

No samba experience is needed as you join in the performance of dance, music, and color around you. What an amazing way to really get a front-row seat to the largest Carnival parade in the world!

The $220 USD cost includes hotel pick up and drop off, a colorful costume, and the bucket list chance to not just watch the Carnival parade, but be in it! I highly recommend booking this tour here so you don’t miss out!

Behind-the-scenes Carnival tours

For a rare glimpse of what goes into this incredible event, this Carnival Backstage tour is the way to go. You’ll explore the Carnival Factory to see how the parade’s floats and costumes are made and learn about the history of samba and carnival.

The best part has to be hitting up the dressing rooms to try on costumes and take photos! You’ll also get cocktails and a samba class to complete the experience. Plus, it’s under $20 USD a ticket!

For a hassle-free tour that also includes transportation, this Rio backstage tour is our pick. You’ll tour through the City of Samba – a warehouse where some of the amazing floats and costumes can be found. You’ll also tour the Samba Factory to learn the history of samba and get a samba lesson while wearing a traditional costume.

Hotel pick-up and drop-off are included in the $63 USD cost.

8. How do you find out where the Bloco parties are?

Bailey with friends on the streets during Carnival, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
You need to experience the bloco parties!

If you’re staying in one of the major cities, bloco parties are everywhere, so you won’t struggle to find one.

If you’re in Rio, I recommend heading to Lapa and Santa Teresa (which are two super fun neighborhoods located right next to each other). There’s a big buzz around here, but it’s not as touristy and crowded as more popular areas like Copacabana and Ipanema.

The same rule applies to Sāo Paolo, while in Florianopolis, a lot of the action happens close to the main beaches. In Salvador, there will be parties along the two parade routes we mentioned, so you can wander through and find the ones that suit your fancy.

Before you head out each day, it’s a good idea to make a plan of which blocos you’d like to see and get an idea of how to get from one to another. This information is available closer to the date, or just ask your hotel or hostel. There is a huge printout of all the times and places of the blocks. In Rio, there could be over 50 in a day in different locations at different times.

9. What to wear during Carnival in Brazil?

A bloco in Carnival, in the Santa Teresa neighborhood
Wear whatever you feel comfortable wearing!

Basically, whatever you want – as long as it’s colorful!

Some people go all out and adorn themselves with bejeweled costumes, body paint, glitter… you name it! You’ll see lots of crazy costumes and dressing up is strongly encouraged, so if you’re feeling extravagant, then now is the time to let loose and go for it.

However, if you’re not totally comfortable with that, you can keep it more low-key. Just wear something vibrant and colorful, and you’ll blend in.

You can even wear fairly ordinary clothes and shake things up with leis, wigs, hats, masks… whatever you feel like!

10. Tips for having a fun and safe Carnival in Brazil

Dancers at a show during Carnival in Brazil
We loved the costumes!

Carnival is amazing, but it can also be a bit overwhelming and it’s important to keep yourself safe. Having done it, survived it, and had an amazing time, we’ve got a couple of basic tips so that you can stay safe and healthy, and just focus on enjoying this unique experience.

  • Don’t carry valuables. Just bring the cash you need with you and hide it somewhere safe, like a money belt underneath your clothes, your bra, your sock, or another hidden pocket. The same goes for your phone.
  • Be careful with drinks. Spiking does happen at Carnival, so only buy a drink that the bartender makes right in front of you, or ones that come from sealed cans.
  • Pace yourself. Carnival is overwhelming as there’s just so much to see and do, but it’s a marathon, not a sprint! It lasts for several days and festivities last for 16 hours (or more) so keep that in mind. You don’t have to go crazy or do it all at once, and if you drink too much one night you might ruin the next day for yourself.
  • Stay hydrated. Things are pretty hot in February/March in most of Brazil, and you’ll constantly have hundreds of people around you as you dance and explore, so remember to drink plenty of water. With that being said, don’t drink from taps – stick to the bottled stuff.
  • Choose clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. For one thing, you’re probably going to sweat a lot. There are also lots of water fights and you almost certainly will get sprayed, so the streets can get pretty muddy after a while. Leave your finest Chanel at home.
  • Avoid drugs. Needless to say, it’s a bad idea to take drugs and incapacitate yourself in this kind of atmosphere. As well as the fact that you never really know what you’re taking, it could get you into sticky situations with the wrong kind of people, and you could end up getting lost, robbed, or sick.
  • Always have a plan. You don’t need to attack Carnival like a military operation, but you should have a plan in place. Outline your day before you head out, identify the blocos or parades you want to see and make sure to check the train times so that you know when and how to get home.

11. What to expect during Carnival in Brazil and my advice

Bailey in the crowds of Carnival all dressed up and ready to party
The day parties are the best!

Carnival in Brazil is a hectic event, so I just wanted to share some quick information on what to expect. Although it seems overwhelming, the first thing you need to know is to get your accommodation booked. Seriously, everything comes after a great place to stay!

Next, if you’re in Rio, pick one night to go to the Sambadrome and get tickets! This can be very difficult, but there are so many tickets you can purchase safely on Viator. I wish this was around when I went because we had to buy tickets from a scalper in Rio. It sucked, and we got ripped off!

Once you have the above, you’re pretty much sorted! Now it’s time to party.

Most days start with a big breakfast before heading out onto the streets and to the locations of the block parties. These locations can be found after arriving in Rio or Brazil, and your hotel or hostel will be able to help with this. Some of the block parties start really early, and it’s best to just pick a few each day.

We would head out every day, sometimes at 7 am, to start drinking and partying. However, throughout the day, we would come back to the hotel to relax. The experience can be so overwhelming you need this quiet time. Honestly, we only went out at night once and spent most of our days partying. This was ideal for us because not only did we get to enjoy the fantastic weather, but we avoided the dangers that come after dark.

To be honest, by the end of that day, you are so exhausted you need to rest. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint! Some days will also be better than others, so don’t keep trying to top each day, take it as it comes.

Remember, the most important thing is to be safe out there. Drink lots of water, avoid drugs, and travel in a group. It’s the best way to have a good time during Carnival!

12. Is Carnival safe for LGBTIQA+?

A dancer in the sambadrome in rio de janeiro brazil
So colorful!

Yes, Brazil is a very LGBTIQA+ friendly country and Carnival is a celebration of inclusivity and acceptance. 

There are plenty of LGBTIQA+ blocos to be found at Carnivals across the country, such as the famous Banda de Ipanema, which takes place a week before Carnival officially starts. The Scala nightclub also hosts the Scala Gay Ball on the last night of Carnival.

As we mentioned earlier, there’s a big emphasis on LGBTIQA+ in Florianopolis, too, with lots of balls, beach parties, and the famous Pop Gay competition.

13. Is Carnival Suitable for children?

Not really, no.

The bloco parties are DEFINITELY not for kids. You see some insane things go down during Carnival, like nudity, public urination, and other obscene acts. There are lots of drunk people in the streets and things get pretty messy, so it’s not really a family-friendly vibe.

The Sambadrome is suitable for kids – in fact, they’ll love the show. But all in all, Brazil during Carnival isn’t really family holiday material, in our opinion.

14. Does the train run during Carnival?

A crowd marches down the street at Carnival, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
The parties close entire streets and neighborhoods!

The train does run in Rio during Carnival, and it’s one of the best ways to get around. Lots of roads are closed due to bloco parties, so Uber gets expensive and frustrating. Buses are cheaper, but road closures mean that they’re also far from convenient.

The train is definitely the best way to get around. It only costs around $1 USD per trip, and there are stations close to most of the main hotspots, which is handy. The train network is also super easy to navigate. Just bear in mind that demand is SUPER high this time of year and so trains will be busy – but that’s Carnival for you!

If you don’t want to worry about transportation to and from the Sambadrome for the main event, this grandstand ticket includes a shuttle that will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel. It’s a great way to experience Carnival but not worry about how you’re getting there!

15. Is celebrating Carnival in Brazil worth it?

Yes!

This really is an experience like no other. Think of the most amazing atmosphere, performances, and parties that you’ve ever seen – and then multiply it by ten. That’s what Carnival in Brazil is like.

If you’re thinking about going, all we have to say is: DO IT.

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie with friends during Carnival, Brazil
Thanks for reading!

Hopefully, this guide to Carnival in Brazil has been helpful as you plan to attend this epic party! Even doing just a bit of pre-planning, like buying a Sambadrome ticket and booking a hotel in Rio will help make sure you can focus on having fun once you arrive.

If Carnival is only one stop on your upcoming travels, make sure to check out our other South American blogs. We have lots of ideas for great destinations and activities you shouldn’t miss while exploring this part of the world.

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