As Brazil celebrates Rio Carnival 2020, tourists are treated with street parties, samba parades, and carnival balls. The yearly party celebrated in real Brazilian style, began on Friday, February 21 and continues until Ash Wednesday, February 26.  The carnival traditionally ends same day Christians mark the beginning of the Lent period, characterized by abstinence from worldly pleasures.

Dancers at Sambadrome Parades, Rio Carnival 2020

The word Carnival originates from the Portuguese ‘Carne Vale,’ interpreted as ‘Farewell to meat.’ Thus, Rio Carnival is seen as major celebration before a period of abstinence from alcohol, meat and pleasure begins. This period lasts up to the Easter holiday, the date when Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

Rio Carnival attracts approximately a million people from different parts of the globe to the City. Tourists enjoy the pulsating sounds of the Samba and much more. In addition to buying tickets for parades and enjoying as spectators, Carnival goers can also participate themselves. They can join one of the available samba schools and purchase one of the official costumes listed on the website.

Carnival Balls and Parties

Carnival goers can attend some of the most thrilling City carnival balls during the Rio Carnival. Ball tickets are a hot item, as they offer a rare form of refined entertainment. The Rio Scala Nightclub is the home to many Carnival balls such as the Scala Gay Ball, one of the Carnival’s most spectacular events. Visitors can see drag queens from various places around the world, in their most fabulous outfits, partying harder than ever.

Revellers dance at the Ceu na Terra Street Party (Photo: AP/IndependentUK)
Celebrations at the Bloco Ceu na Terra Street Party (Photo: Getty Images/IndependentUK)

On the other hand, Street parties in Rio start weeks before the Carnival and are characterized by loud music. Every night gives life to more than 300 different parties, attracting cariocas and tourists. The Rio Carnival will provide you with the incredible chance to observe the most sophisticated samba groups with their floats.

A look at History

The festival ‘Entrudo’ was introduced by the Portuguese and this inspired the birth of Carnival in Brazil. In 1840, the very first Rio masquerade took place, and polka and waltz took centre stage. The Roman Catholic Church put in place the traditions of the current Carnival celebration that leads to Ash Wednesday. It is the beginning of the Lent period in the Christian calendar.

However, the Africans subsequently influenced the Carnival with the introduction of samba music in 1917. Notably, Brazilian traditions were influenced by the Portuguese and African presence in South America. African slaves, brought to Brazil by the Portuguese, gave life to the first samba rhythms. Samba is now considered as traditional Brazilian music, and people can experience its rhythm at the Rio Carnival 2020. Carnival Costumes were made of various elements, such as feathers, grass and bones.

Samba Revolution

Over the years, Rio Carnival grew into a competitive arena for various samba-led groups, blocos, or street parades. Today, participants are extravagantly dressed in their bright costumes as they strive to become the champions of the carnival. Samba music at street parades later influenced the emergence of samba schools in Rio.

Also, these schools are now positioned at the very heart of the carnival celebrations. As competition among street bands increased, samba schools created a specific identity so they could stand out from the crowd. Every school has eighty minutes to demonstrate their skills and convince the judges of their talents. Ash Wednesday is the day when results are announced, and the best six schools make their ultimate performance next Saturday.

The Sambadrome, located at Marquês de Sapucaí Avenue is the focus of attention during the Rio Carnival. The spirit of competition required a powerful arena for presentation, and soon the Sambadromo stadium was constructed in 1984. Since then, the stadium has been modified with ideas from numerous immigrants, who have contributed to its unique architecture.

Sources: Riocarnival.org, Independent.co.uk, ALNews, @Carnival in Rio de Janeiro 2020

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