Settled next to the Atlantic Ocean is Brazil, the fifth largest country in the world by population and geographical area. Rain forests, mountains and white-sand beaches occupy a large portion of the land creating an amiable atmosphere for visitors to experience the ideal tropical getaway. Brazil’s capital city is regarded as the cultural hotspot of Brazil due to its collection of historic and contemporary architecture, over 50 museums, admiration of music and literature, and its annual Carnival celebration. Also known as “cidade maravilhosa,” Rio de Janeiro prides itself for being dubbed as the Carnival capital of the world, often praised as the “world’s largest party.” The Rio Carnival draws around 500, 000 foreign guests every year in February and witnesses two million people per day on the streets alone. Rio de Janeiro is the most awarded destination by World Travel Awards in the South American category of “best destination.” Seniors and children of all ages also participate in the parade marches, so this may be the ideal time for families to have a good time together.
The roots of the carnival may be traced back to the ancient Romans and Greeks who celebrated the advent of spring with lavish festivals. The first festivals of Rio date back to 1723, where the Portuguese used to host one main feast to mark the beginning of the period of quaresma. Over several decades, the feast evolved to being a celebration with dance shows, street parades, and samba music.
One aspect of the Rio Carnival is entertainment, yet it may also allow a chance to explore the culture of Brazil more intimately. There is a certain philosophy present that focuses on the reasons as to why the Carnival is important to the Brazilians. The country’s very essence is established; even the residents of the favelas are jubilant during these five days for a moment of liberty and release. Rio de Janeiro’s government has since undertaken to modernise the city’s economy, reduce its chronic social inequalities, and improve its commercial standing as part of an initiative for the regeneration of the tourism industry. These particular locals are often members of a samba school and are vastly involved with the performance and costumes of their groups.
The preparation for the Samba Parade starts months in advance, as each samba school gathers thousands of supporters who design the various parts of the school’s display themselves. After the theme of the year is picked, the school’s samba song of the year is selected through competition, while the school’s Carnival Designer makes the outfits and the floats which are then made into production.
The carnival begins when Rio’s mayor gives a giant silver and gold key to the elected Carnival King (Momo) alongside his Queen. There are four different parades in the Sambodromo Marquês de Sapucaí (a parade area purposely built for samba school parade competitions during the Rio Carnival): Samba Schools in the First League, Champions’ Parade, Preliminary Parades of the Second League Schools and Children’s Samba Schools. The samba schools delight the community through samba nights and create a pageant for the Samba Parade. Rio de Janeiro also offers a selection of Carnival balls, suitable for people of all age groups each with diverse themes and entertainments. Located in the Sambadrome at the end of the Samba platform under the large vaults of Apotheosis Square is the Samba Museum. The museum is diverse with the way it showcases the history of Carnival in Rio and how the samba traditions have developed throughout the years with live exhibitions featuring former costumes and photographs from Samba Parades over the years.
From lively carnivals to the beaches of Copacabana to the tops of scenic outlooks of Corcovado and Pão de Açúcar to the dance halls, bars and open-air cafes that manifold the city; it may just be the ideal paradise to entice new visitors. Whether one wishes to surf the great breaks off Prainha, hike through Tijuca’s rainforests, sail across Guanabára, or dance the night away in Lapa, Rio de Janeiro offers a multitude of activities and sights to experience.
What makes Rio de Janeiro one of the most visited cities in the Southern Hemisphere?