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Attending Rio Carnival

Attending Rio Carnival

Old Jan 12, 20, 12:30 pm
  #1  
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Attending Rio Carnival

Forgive me if there is another thread regarding this subject.

Heading to Rio for the Carnival (Carnaval) and would appreciate any advice for a first timer.

Will be staying 5 nights at a hotel on Copa Beach so I should be close to most of the action.

Was specifically looking at attending one of the balls. Is the Magic Ball worth the price tag? Any other balls worth a look?

Any other tips are much appreciated.

Thanks in advance
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Old Jan 13, 20, 7:41 am
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Ok....here is a few things
  1. Do not cary a wallet, walk with minimum cash.
  2. Be very aware of your drinks. Do not take any extra or accept drinks from anyone
  3. DO not go to LAPA. IF YOU absolutely have to, shorts, little cash, no cards/
  4. No watch
  5. No necklace
  6. Valuable jewellery MUST stay home.
  7. Be very careful with cabs. They have
    1. a way to speed up the price on the digital counter
    2. fake bills to give to foreigners
  8. Bring "personal health protection" in case you think you got "lucky"
  9. STAY HOME and only go to Rio if you absolutely have to.
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Old Jan 13, 20, 10:15 am
  #3  
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Originally Posted by cheapflt View Post
Ok....here is a few things
  1. Do not cary a wallet, walk with minimum cash.
  2. Be very aware of your drinks. Do not take any extra or accept drinks from anyone
  3. DO not go to LAPA. IF YOU absolutely have to, shorts, little cash, no cards/
  4. No watch
  5. No necklace
  6. Valuable jewellery MUST stay home.
  7. Be very careful with cabs. They have
    1. a way to speed up the price on the digital counter
    2. fake bills to give to foreigners
  8. Bring "personal health protection" in case you think you got "lucky"
  9. STAY HOME and only go to Rio if you absolutely have to.
Thanks for the info

We will definitely be super vigilant while there.
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Old Jan 14, 20, 2:53 pm
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Yes, the ball at Copacabana Palace is a great way to party in style, if you can afford it. Pay attention to the dress code by looking at pictures of previous years as it's obviously not a black tie event...

Regarding the rest of the festivities, bear in mind that street parties (blocos) usually happen during the day (7am - 4pm) and last for only 4h each. In general, avoid the ones on the beachside as they attract the wrong crowd. Most people attending a bloco are in their 20s so keep in mind you may feel old if that's not your age group.

The parades happen at night (11ish pm till 5am). I personally find them boring. You'll need tickets beforehand and getting there and back is a hassle since taxis are out to scam you. Uber works great in Brazil: cheap and plentiful. But DO leave your iPhone X at home/hotel and use a more modest smartphone when out and about...
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Old Jan 16, 20, 6:26 am
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Originally Posted by FlyingFrZ View Post
Will be staying 5 nights at a hotel on Copa Beach so I should be close to most of the action.
Not really. The Sambodromo is pretty far from Copacabana (although there are metro stops nearby) and the street blocos take place in many different neighborhoods.
IMO the balls are kind of passe'.
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Old Jan 17, 20, 9:41 am
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Originally Posted by RafKa View Post
Yes, the ball at Copacabana Palace is a great way to party in style, if you can afford it. Pay attention to the dress code by looking at pictures of previous years as it's obviously not a black tie event...

Regarding the rest of the festivities, bear in mind that street parties (blocos) usually happen during the day (7am - 4pm) and last for only 4h each. In general, avoid the ones on the beachside as they attract the wrong crowd. Most people attending a bloco are in their 20s so keep in mind you may feel old if that's not your age group.

The parades happen at night (11ish pm till 5am). I personally find them boring. You'll need tickets beforehand and getting there and back is a hassle since taxis are out to scam you. Uber works great in Brazil: cheap and plentiful. But DO leave your iPhone X at home/hotel and use a more modest smartphone when out and about...
Thank you for the info

I think we'll skip the samba parade. I agree it looks pretty boring, especially as it goes on into the night.

I think we'll splurge on the magic ball at Copacabana Palace instead.

If there are specific blocos we should check out, I would love to hear them
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Old Jan 17, 20, 9:29 pm
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Originally Posted by FlyingFrZ View Post
If there are specific blocos we should check out, I would love to hear them
Here's a list of all the blocos. As a general rule of thumb, avoid anything bigger than 20,000 people especially the massive ones in Ipanema, Copacabana and Centro (attracts a lot of pickpocketing, sometimes drunken fights etc).

Rola Preguiçosa - Feb 20 @8pm
Imagino? Agora Amassa - Feb 22 @10am
Suvaco do Cristo - Feb 23 @10am
Cordao do Boitata - Feb 23 @12pm
Empolga as 9 - Feb 23 @4pm
Samba de Santa Clara - Feb 24 @2pm

Personally, I find the blocos in Santa Teresa to be the most fun, although it's a bit of a pain to get to (Uber works fine, do not wander around the neighbourhood and get lost after the bloco finishes).

Bloco das Carmelitas - Feb 20 @3pm
Ceu na Terra - Feb 22 @8am

Another tip: stick to buying cans of beers/water bottles at the blocos (no risk of being spiked). Avoid anything like caipirinhas, and those home-made smirnoff ice lollies.
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Old Jan 18, 20, 7:57 am
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IMO the parades in the Sambodromo are the high point of Carnaval in Rio. The films of these parades are exactly what attracts everyone to Rio for Carnaval. The costumes and floats are spectacular, and make for amazing photos. There are metro stops near both sides of the Sambodromo and getting there and back is part of the fun. You can even see locals commuting in their costumes. All of it gives you insight into the life of locals who plan the whole year for this, and also those who live for and root for their samba school, a POV which you don't get hanging around with rich people and foreign tourists at a ball. The words to the songs (enredos) of each samba school parading are posted online and can be translated to give further insight into the theme, carried through by the costumes and floats.
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Old Jan 19, 20, 4:54 pm
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Originally Posted by VidaNaPraia View Post
IMO the parades in the Sambodromo are the high point of Carnaval in Rio. The films of these parades are exactly what attracts everyone to Rio for Carnaval. The costumes and floats are spectacular, and make for amazing photos. There are metro stops near both sides of the Sambodromo and getting there and back is part of the fun. You can even see locals commuting in their costumes. All of it gives you insight into the life of locals who plan the whole year for this, and also those who live for and root for their samba school, a POV which you don't get hanging around with rich people and foreign tourists at a ball. The words to the songs (enredos) of each samba school parading are posted online and can be translated to give further insight into the theme, carried through by the costumes and floats.
For a first timer, where do you recommend sitting?
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Old Jan 20, 20, 9:58 am
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IMO in one of the center setor grandstands, the best you can afford (just not the setor 9 tourist section). Maybe 7,8,10.
Note: The musicians parade and then tuck into a niche next to setor 11 for the remainder of their school's parade, which can be a bit loud for some.
From the grandstand, you get an overall view of the colors and costumes, and are at the level of many details on the floats. The last sections (highest numbers) often mean the schools are in a rush to get out of the stadium before their time is up. The beginning sectors (lower numbers are given to locals (the very first ones) and don't have a view in both directions of the parade pageantry. If you are alone or have doubts about keeping your seats in a large "first-come" set of concrete steps, bring some sort of portable foam stadium seating. However, most spectators will be on their feet during the parade hour.
I highly recommend doing as much research on the schools (history of each and their standings in this and past competitions), themes and songs before attending, so what you are watching is more intelligible.
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Old Feb 1, 20, 8:07 pm
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Originally Posted by cheapflt View Post
Ok....here is a few things
  1. Do not cary a wallet, walk with minimum cash.
  2. Be very aware of your drinks. Do not take any extra or accept drinks from anyone
  3. DO not go to LAPA. IF YOU absolutely have to, shorts, little cash, no cards/
  4. No watch
  5. No necklace
  6. Valuable jewellery MUST stay home.
  7. Be very careful with cabs. They have
    1. a way to speed up the price on the digital counter
    2. fake bills to give to foreigners
  8. Bring "personal health protection" in case you think you got "lucky"
  9. STAY HOME and only go to Rio if you absolutely have to.
This is a rebuttal from someone who lives here part of the year, has been travelling to Rio since 2000, done over 58 trips now. Just got back from 5 weeks in Rio last month, Rafka, sorry I couldn't hook up with you again bud. Next time.

1-You don't need a wallet. Keep 1 or 2 cards with you in a pocket, a copy of your passport and entry stamp, and cash. I always have usually R$1,000 on me at any time......FWIW.....that is $300 CAD dollars. A bonus to a thief, but nothing to me. Never been robbed, or felt in danger yet.

2-Drink bottled beer or mixed drinks from the bar, or your server without concern. Like when in any club or city IN THE ENTIRE WORLD, don't let the drink out of your sight.

3-Lapa......KKKKKKKKKK.......there are far worse places in Rio than Lapa to worry about.

4-Everyone in Rio wears a watch on the street. No expensive easily identifiable watch is the correct advice.

5-Necklaces are fine. Just don't use big gaudy expensive gold ones. They belong in Palm Beach anyways.

6-Valuable will be defined your preference. I only wear a wedding ring regardless.

7-Cabs are fine. Make sure they have a red licence plate though, and that the driver has his license prominently displayed. There are two meter settings (1 or 2), just make sure he's using the correct one for the time. The best practice in Rio is to have a lot of small bills on you to preclude someone having to give you change, as everyone will try to get out of doing so, in order to keep it as a tip.

A word on Uber. I use it there a lot as well. But, unless the river has a few thousand trips under their belt on their profile, I will cancel the trip and get someone who does. Most of the Uber driver's are guys who are part timers, or lost their jobs. They know how to go from A-B in their day to day lives, but they do not know the inner workings of the city in which they live like an experienced taxista does. Following the blue line aimlessly on the Uber app will get you killed if they don't know where they are going, and many of them do not have a clue.

8-Condoms are always a good idea anywhere.

9-Always go to Rio. How on earth are you going to experience the city and it's culture ?
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Last edited by KDS777; Feb 1, 20 at 8:13 pm
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Old Feb 3, 20, 2:05 pm
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Originally Posted by KDS777 View Post
This is a rebuttal from someone who lives here part of the year, has been travelling to Rio since 2000, done over 58 trips now. Just got back from 5 weeks in Rio last month, Rafka, sorry I couldn't hook up with you again bud. Next time.

1-You don't need a wallet. Keep 1 or 2 cards with you in a pocket, a copy of your passport and entry stamp, and cash. I always have usually R$1,000 on me at any time......FWIW.....that is $300 CAD dollars. A bonus to a thief, but nothing to me. Never been robbed, or felt in danger yet.

2-Drink bottled beer or mixed drinks from the bar, or your server without concern. Like when in any club or city IN THE ENTIRE WORLD, don't let the drink out of your sight.

3-Lapa......KKKKKKKKKK.......there are far worse places in Rio than Lapa to worry about.

4-Everyone in Rio wears a watch on the street. No expensive easily identifiable watch is the correct advice.

5-Necklaces are fine. Just don't use big gaudy expensive gold ones. They belong in Palm Beach anyways.

6-Valuable will be defined your preference. I only wear a wedding ring regardless.

7-Cabs are fine. Make sure they have a red licence plate though, and that the driver has his license prominently displayed. There are two meter settings (1 or 2), just make sure he's using the correct one for the time. The best practice in Rio is to have a lot of small bills on you to preclude someone having to give you change, as everyone will try to get out of doing so, in order to keep it as a tip.

A word on Uber. I use it there a lot as well. But, unless the river has a few thousand trips under their belt on their profile, I will cancel the trip and get someone who does. Most of the Uber driver's are guys who are part timers, or lost their jobs. They know how to go from A-B in their day to day lives, but they do not know the inner workings of the city in which they live like an experienced taxista does. Following the blue line aimlessly on the Uber app will get you killed if they don't know where they are going, and many of them do not have a clue.

8-Condoms are always a good idea anywhere.

9-Always go to Rio. How on earth are you going to experience the city and it's culture ?
Thank you. This info is extremely helpful
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Old May 9, 20, 9:33 am
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Wanted to provide an update here to help those looking to head to carnaval in the future

We had fantastic time. Rio is without a doubt a magical place. The people were friendly and respectful. I must have gained 10lbs on the Caipirinhas alone.

We never felt unsafe or uneasy, but we dressed as casual as possible. I had my phone on me at all times, but made sure to only use it when I was aware of my surroundings. We used Uber to get around and never had an issue. We took the advice upthread and only used ubers with a sizable amount of rides under their belt.

We had a chance to visit most of the locals in the city. We even found ourselves at a bloco in Lapa. Not saying it's safe place overall, but we never felt it was dangerous to be there.

The JW Marriott is a perfect jumping off point, and it's proximity to Copacobana Beach was very convenient. It's not the lap of luxury, but we were very happy with the property. Staff is exceptional.

My girlfriend and I attended both the Copacabana Palace ball and a camarote for the Samba parade (Rio camorote). What an incredible experience. The Samba parade did get pretty repetitive, but it was great fun to the early hours of the morning. Both events were pricey ($500 a ticket) but worth the splurge. If I had to choose one, I'd personally go with the ball.

We are already booked to return next year, assuming the event remains

If anyone has specific questions about my experience, would be happy to share
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Last edited by FlyingFrZ; May 9, 20 at 9:39 am
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Old May 14, 20, 4:47 pm
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Planning to go in 2021 if it happens.
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