The Carnaval festivities are off to an early start this year, and there’s no time like the present to start mapping out where you’ll be headed. Officially kicking off this Friday evening, Carnaval is set to be bigger and brighter than ever with an extensive range of blocos and events for all. Internationally acclaimed as the Carnival Capital of the world, Rio (in an appropriately Olympian metaphor) sets the bar sky high when it comes to the yearly celebrations. On such a scale, Rio Carnival can seem overwhelming; however Dehouche has handpicked a selection of the very best blocos and events so you can make some method out of all the madness! From family fun to all night long, there’s something for everyone in this year’s haze of glitter that is Rio Carnaval…
If it ain’t broke…
…don’t fix it. The traditional essence of Carnival is intertwined with the spirit of Samba, a music and dance firmly rooted in Afro-Brazilian history. Far more than just a week of partying, Carnival is an important underpinning of Brazilian culture – at the same time both a celebration of life and a cathartic escapism from its harsher realities. Read on for some of the most traditional Carnival blocos, or street parades, that never fail to deliver.
BLOCO VIRTUAL – Friday, February 5th, 5pm
This classic carnival warm up will get you in the samba spirit with its iconic sounds of brass bands and flashes of colour in the street. Each year its theme is decided by online contributors, keeping it original and indeed virtual. Head to this classic opening bloco to get your first flavour of the festivities to come…
BIP BIP – Friday, February 5th, 23:59pm
Traditionally considered as the official opening to Rio Carnaval (as its time suggests), Bip Bip has an electric atmosphere as the doors to the excitement and passion of carnaval finally open. Busy and bustling, this bloco is the perfect option to see in your week of Brazilian delights.
Where? Bar Bip Bip, Rua Almirante Goncalves, Copacabana
CEU NA TERRA- Saturday, February 6th , 8am
This bloco is a firm favourite, and is one of the best ways to experience the traditional sights and sounds of carnival. Travelling up into the hills of bohemian Santa Teresa, this Heaven on Earth bloco brings people together to enjoy the classic carnival Marchinhas, the traditional samba “little marches”.
Where? Largo dos Guimaraes, Santa Teresa
CORDAO DO PRATA PRETA- Saturday, February 6th, 6pm
Another classic samba bloco, the (not so) little marches of Cordao do prata preta will see some of the coolest fancy dress around. Get your thinking cap on in order to stand out at this off the beaten track bloco, flooding the historic streets of Gamboa.
Where? Praca Coronel Assuncao, Gamboa
CORDAO DO BOITATA– Sunday, February 7th, 9am
If you took it easy on the Caipirinhas on Saturday night (or haven’t gone to bed yet…), Sunday morning kicks off in Centro with the old favourite Cordao do boitata. Founded in 1996, this bloco is a multicultural celebration sure to get the day off to a soulful start!
Where? Praca XV, Centro
CORDAO DO BOI TOLO – Sunday, February 7th, 11am (unofficial)
Starting in 2006, this unofficial bloco was born when a group of friends gathered for Cordao do Boitata, however much to their dismay the procession had already passed. Frustrated and full of energy, the carnival loving folioes improvised their own version of the bloco with just one trumpet, tambourine and a small drum. A decade on and this vibrant bloco shows no signs of slowing down, and continues to light up the streets of Rio, wherever it ends up – there is no set route and no finish time, this one is literally last man standing.
Where? Praca XV, Centro
SARGENTO PIMENTA- Monday, February 8th, 10am
If the repetitive sounds of marchinhas are beginning to take their toll by Monday, then this Beatles themed bloco is the perfect way to put a fresh spring in your samba step. With its lively music festival feel, crowds dressed in suitable Sargent Pepper attire gather to enjoy the many musicians that make up one of Rio’s largest blocos – the crowd is so large that this one takes place on a stationary stage on the Aterro de Flamengo.
Where? Aterro de Flamengo between Marina da Gloria and MAM.
ACONTECEU, Monday, February 8th, 6pm
A classic bloco that falls on most days of Rio carnival, Aconteceu offers a (somewhat) quieter alternative for those looking to enjoy the spirit of carnaval in a less crowded setting. Head to the hills of Santa Teresa to enjoy a Monday sundowner mixed with the sounds of some of Carnival’s best drummers.
Where? Largo dos Guimaraes, Santa Teresa
ORQUESTRA VOADORA- Tuesday, February 9th , 3pm
For one of the biggest and best of Carnival’s blocos, head to Flamengo for Orquestra Voadora and join the crowds for a carnival highlight. Due to its size and popularity, it even has its own original samba song which has taken its popularity above and beyond the carnival parades. Come along to where it all started and see for yourself why it’s not to be missed!
Where? Aterro do Flamengo, near Praca Luis de Camoes, Flamengo
AMIGOS DA ONCA- Tuesday, February 9th, 5pm
Brining the carnal to carnaval, Amigos da Onca, far off the beaten track on the Ilha do Governador is famous for its original jaguar theme. Find your inner carnivore, grab some leopard print and head to this fun bloco, donned in your most racy attire!
Where? Praca Manoel Bandeira, Cocata
SUPER MARIO BLOCO- Wednesday, February 10th, 11am
It’s all fun and games at this Super Mario themed bloco, bringing the string of traditional blocos to a light-hearted close. Hop in your Mario Kart and get moving to the theme sounds of Super Mario mixed with Brazilian beats- and don’t forget your blue dungarees!
Where? Mirante Rato Molhado, Rua Aprazivel, Santa Teresa
With many of the blocos and events of Carnaval being served with a strong measure of cachaca, there is also a selection of family friendly events on offer. The best way for little ones to get a head start in learning the spirit of carnaval!
BANDA DO LIDINHO- Sunday, February 7th 3pm
This child version of the famous Banda do Lido bloco provides a fun filled Sunday afternoon and is sure to keep the children entertained with its lively procession of exciting costumes!
Where? Praca do Lido, Copacabana
BANDA DE IPANEMA INFANTIL- Monday, February 8th 4pm
Taking place in the famous General Osorio square, Banda de Ipanema Infantil is strictly UNDER 18s only! All about the kids, this bloco encourages the samba spirit in our youngest generation. Admission granted to adults only if accompanied by children.
Where? Praca General Osorio, Ipanema
International Party People
For the younger crowds looking to move the spirit of carnival into a more modern (read “electronic”) sphere, here is Dehouche’s selection for what’s on offer for you trendier types…
FOUNDATION RIO :: CARNAVAL #2- Friday, February 5th, late night
Bringing together a truly unique music selection of international and Brazilian talent, the second of Foundation Rio’s Carnaval House Parties is set to be another resounding success. Moving the festivities off the street and inside a beautiful colonial Mansion in Botafogo is the perfect way to celebrate the first night of Carnaval. Expect cool crowds of music lovers and committed party goers.
Where? Mansao Botafogo
GOOSENECK BOAT PARTY- Saturday, February 6th, 1pm
For the hipsters among the carnaval crowds this year, what better way to party than at an exclusive boat party? Gooseneck Records will host some of Brazil’s best underground house DJs (including Davis from Wolf & Lamb and Gooseneck’s own Alistair Gillespie), and with a spectacular back drop of the Guanabara Bay, this event is the only way to see the weekend in in true style. Get your tickets now as attendance is restricted to 150!
Where? Marina da Gloria
SELVAGEM- Saturday, February 6th, 5pm
Not for the faint hearted, Carnaval Selvagem is a free party held in a disused parking lot in the tumbledown surrounds of Gamboa. For those after a grittier approach to carnival, head here to dance the night away with a young eclectic crowd who come for the legendary long sets by the Selvagem DJs who, recently back from a European tour and flush with new vinyl, are unlikely to disappoint.
Where? Rua Gamboa