24 Jan 2020 1310
Fernanda Meneguetti Devorável
#carnival #events #tips

Get into the carnival spirit in Rio 2020!

Learn from Rio locals to take full advantage of the city’s most famous public holiday

For most of the year, Brazilians just want to escape the stereotype of "Brazil, carnival country". However, when the new year kicks off, it’s all around you: many businesses close after Ash Wednesday, the 543 blocos (a wide range of street bands) invade the streets, the feijoadas (parties serving the famous bean and meat stew) with samba become widespread and yes, watching the parades at the Marquês de Sapucaí (even if only on TV) is essential.

Speaking of which, the first samba school was created in Rio de Janeiro in the late 1920s. It was called Deixa Falar, and went on to become Estácio de Sá. Since then, hundreds of schools have emerged, and the Rio Sambadrome came into existence, giving rise to a ritual: watching everything from a camarote, or stand.

The most legendary, the Camarote da Brahma, reserved for a select few invitees, became Camarote No.1, that works only on the Special Group days (Sunday and Monday of Carnival) and the Champions Parade (the following Saturday). These invites cost no less than R$2,200 for women and R$2,700 for men, and can be as much as R$4,000. Expensive? Yes, but tickets sell out in advance. But if you’re interested, just remember that the euro has never been worth so much over here, so don’t hesitate!

photo 3: RioTur . AF Rodrigues
Luckily, there are less inflated and just as lively diversions, such as the Gritos de Carnaval (Carnival Screams) that are free. On February 02 and 09, the Bahian singer Cláudia Leitte will be appearing. On the 16th, colleague Preta Gil will bring at least half a million people into the streets with her Bloco da Preta and, on the 22nd, it is the turn of the extremely traditional Cordão da Bola Preta.
If you're ready to face this hedonistic (and exhausting!!) experience, make sure you fit in the classic energy refuel between one bloco and another: the feijoada. Among the various options, those held on samba schools must be purchased in advance. And well, apart from indulging in the food, the idea is to samba and support your favourite school. However, be prepared, as trying to get a ticket to the feijuca da Mangueira, last year’s champion, or the Tia Surica da Portela can be frustrating.
So take a deep breath, as there are great and calmer alternatives, like Rubaiyat. Overlooking the slopes of the jockey club, this sophisticated steakhouse serves an impeccable buffet (R$ 105), where, along with the delicious dish based on black beans, you’ll find baby pork from their own farm and more than 20 types of side dishes, including farofa, fresh salads, shredded dried meat with pumpkin, cabbage and fried manioc; not to mention the shakes and the long list of desserts.

Photo: SelmyYassuda
Another way of getting into the Carnival spirit in the Wonderful City is to sign up for one of the private parties. There are lots of them covering a wide variety of styles, always involving people in costume and the music goes on all night. The Orquestra Imperial Ball takes place on 27 January, at Manouche in the Botanical Gardens, and features guest DJs. In the city centre, the Casa Momus Ball will be held on 15 February, and promises a lively samba group. On Morro da Urca, the Grand Masked Ball 2020 takes place on Sunday 23 February.
Without losing the rhythm, don't forget to squeeze in a few dips in the ocean and lots of coconut water - the beaches at this time also shake to the sound of great samba and a lot of caipirinha. And, of course, you can soak up this experience at the PortoBay Rio de Janeiro hotel !!
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