Rio de Janeiro Carnival is known worldwide as one of the best carnivals throughout the country and the world. This celebration is made up of a great number of elements, all of them representing the true spirit of the carnival. Every year, millions of people come to the city of Rio de Janeiro to take part in the carnival blocos, parties or the marvelous carnival parades that take place in the city’s sambodrome.
One of the particular characteristics of the carnivals of Rio de Janeiro are the hundreds of carnival blocos that are found in the city. Before, during and after the carnival there are dozens of performances by the various blocos. Each one has its own style and theme, while some play popular songs with Brazilian rhythms, other groups are more traditional and play the famous samba de enredo.
The parades are undoubtedly the most important and prominent attraction of the festivities. Every year, dozens of samba schools compete against each other for the title of champions. To obtain this title, each of the groups or schools must present a great repertoire of cultural manifestations. The dance, the costumes and the carriages are the most colorful elements of the parades at the sambadrome, while the music envelops the entire presentation for a magical show that can only be seen in the Cidade Maravilhosa.
We accompany you to discover everything you need to understand everything about thes professional samba schools, the various parades, their components, how each of the parades are judged and when they take place. This is the beginning of a wonderful journey to the city where the best carnival parties in the world are held.
Samba is a Brazilian musical genre that originated among the urban Afro-Brazilian communities of Rio de Janeiro in the early 20th century and is considered one of the most important cultural phenomena in the entire country. Previously, the word “samba” was designated forpopular dances or popular ballet. However, over time, its meaning was extended to be a genre of popular songs. The first traces of this important musical genre for the carnivals of Rio de Janeiro date back to 1917. However, these were still the primitive genre, which continued to develop and integrate new elements.
It was not until 1920 that samba was structured in the way it is known today. The integration of new rhythms, melodies and thematic aspects was what revitalized the genre, transforming it into the most important musical genre in the entire nation. The integration of instrumental pieces and drums played an important role in the modernization of samba. Furthermore, this new transformation and modernization of the genre played a decisive role in thesamba schools.
The instruments that make up the musical pieces of samba are the pandereta, the cuica, the gnazá, the tom de piso and sometimes the guitar and the cavaquinho. One of the subgenres of samba known as samba enredo was listed as cultural heritage of Brazil in 2007.
A Sambódromo is an architectural complex intended for the parades of the samba schools that are presented in a certain city. Generally, they are composed of a catwalk and an area to locate the spectators. The Sambadrome in the city of Rio de Janeiro is known as Sambódromo Marquês de Sapucaí, it can also be known as Sambódromo do Rio de Janeiro. The complex was inaugurated in 1984.
In addition to hosting the parade of the Samba schools, the sambadrome track has also served to host other events, such as shows musicals, exhibitions, musical presentations and also as playground for some activities in the Olympic Games of 2016.
The Rio de Janeiro Sambadrome or Sambódromo da Marquês de Sapucaí is located at Marquês de Sapucaí Street, Santo Cristo.
Samba schools are a type of popular association that performs various cultural manifestations, including the singing and dancing of samba, usually for competitive purposes. Samba schools perform in public shows in the form of procession, where they represent a plot or theme in particular with carriages, dances, costumes and musical ambience. Usually the members parade on foot, but they may also do so on large floats.
The schools parade in the Sambódromo de Marquês de Sapucaí. These wonderful shows attract tourists from various parts of the world and the country. Although there are several samba schools all over the country and the world, the schools in Rio de Janeiro are truly unique. There are currently dozens of samba schools in the city of Rio that compete in parades for the title of winners.
As in many other cities in the country, the parades that take place in the city of Rio de Janeiro are divided into three: the Special Group samba school parade, then the GAccess Group or Series A and finally, the Champions Parade..
The samba schools belonging to the Special Group are the most famous and are always held on Sunday and Monday of Carnival. The Access Group, also known as Seria A, in which second division schools participate and is always held on Friday and Saturday of Carnival. Although both groups are composed of professional schools, the Special Group schools are always larger and more impressive. The Seria A or Access Group compete for a spot in the Special Group.
The third type of parades is the Parade of Champions, where the 6 schools that had the best performance in the parades of that year parade. Likewise, this parade always takes place on the Saturday following the carnivals.
The Rio de Janeiro Carnival has a large number of samba schools that perform at the sambadrome. In consideration with the Special Group, there are 12 schools in total, while, for the second division or Series A, there are 15 samba schools.
Below, we will let you know some of the schools that are part of both groups:
The Grêmio Recreativo Escola de Samba Acadêmicos do Salgueiro, or simply Salgueiro, is one of the most traditional samba schools in the city of Rio de Janeiro. This samba school was founded in 1953 from the merger of two samba schools from the favela Morro do Salgueiro, known as Depois Eu Digo and Azul e Branco. It currently has 9 titles as champion of the Special Group, being the fourth school with the most titles in the Rio de Janeiro Carnival. In addition, it has also been one of the biggest winners of the Tamborim de Ouro and Estandarte de Ouro, both unofficial Carnival awards.
This school is linked to Afro-Brazilian traditions, as it generally chooses plots and musical pieces with this type of strands. Salgueiro has never been demoted to Access Group or Series A, its worst performance was in 2006 when it reached 11th place. The first time it paraded was in 1954, winning third place in that edition and in 1960 it won the competition for the first time. Its characteristic colors are red and white.
The Grêmio Recreativo Escola de Samba Estação Primeira de Mangueira, or simply Mangueira, is a traditional Brazilian samba school in the city of Rio de Janeiro. The school was founded on April 28, 1928, in the town of Morro da Mangueira. Its flagship colors are green and pink and it holds the position of second school with the most champion titles in the city’s carnival. To date, this school has 20 achievements and has been runner-up 19 times.
The Grêmio Recreativo Escola de Samba Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel, Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel or simply Mocidade is one of the professional samba schools that parades in the sambódromo. The school was founded in the year 1955, but it was not until the 1970s that it reached its greatest splendor. The flagship colors that represent this school are green and white.
Currently, Mocidade occupiesthe seventh place of the biggest winners of the Carnival of Rio de Janeiro, adding 6 great achievements.
The Beija-Flor Samba School, or simply Beija-Flor, is one of the professional samba schools that perform the parades at the sambódromo. This school is located in the municipality of Nilópolis. The school was founded in 1948, but its first parade was in 1954. That same year it was champion, which placed it in Group I. Beija-Flor remained in that group until 1963.
Beija-Flor has achieved to date 14 achievements, placing it as the third samba school with the highest number of achievements in the list of champions of the Rio de Janeiro Carnival. In addition, it has also been second runner-up on 12 other occasions.
Grêmio Recreativo Escola de Samba Acadêmicos do Grande Rio, Acadêmicos do Grande Rio or simply Grande Rio is a Brazilian samba school from the municipality of Duque de Caxias. That parades in the carnival of the city of Rio de Janeiro, more precisely in the Special Group. It has its headquarters on Almirante Barroso Street, in the center of the city. The school originated in the neighborhood on August 25 after the result of the merger of GRES Grande Rio and Academics of Duque de Caxias in 1988.
The school Grêmio Recreativo Escola de Samba Acadêmicos do Grande Rio was runner-up of the Carnival Special Group in 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2020.
The Grêmio Recreativo Escola de Samba Imperatriz Leopoldinense, Imperatriz or Imperatriz Leopoldinense is an official samba school in the city of Rio de Janeiro located in the Ramos neighborhood. This samba school was founded in the year 1959, parading for the first time in the year 1960. Their distinctive colors are green, white and gold. The name of this school comes from the Imperatriz Maria Leopoldina. At present, the school has 8 championship titles, with 3 of these obtaining the highest possible qualification.
The Rio Samba School Parade is very different from all the other street parades held in some other places in the world. Carnival parades in Rio developed around a competition between samba schools. These parades were held in the center of the city. However, it was not until 1980 when they began to be held at the sambadrome. The parades are not an easy thing, as they require preparation several months in advance. Most schools begin their technical rehearsals in mid-December, which are held at the sambódromo.
The Rio de Janeiro Samba School Parade is a highly orchestrated spectacle of grand proportions. In addition, each of the members has a specific role and parade place according to their costume or disguise at a specific point on the runway. Each of the people involved in the choreography and show tells a story, which links with many others to unfold the general plot of the school for that year.
Every year, each of the schools chooses adifferent theme to develop for the parade. These themes are varied and you can commemorate a certain period of history, famous characters or Brazilian historical characters. All carriages and members’ costumes are decorated according to this theme and must be designed to meet the demands of both the public and the judges. The parades of the professional schools of theAccess Group and Special Group are always held at the sambódromo in the city of Rio de Janeiro.
During the parade, the schools are divided into several sections and each section has around 100 to 200 people in the same costume. Each of these sections plays a specific role within the overall play. Between each of these sections, there is usually a float, which can be mechanical or pushed by some members of that school. These people also have fanciful and colorful costumes. Each school parade usually consists of 8 floats.
The costumes are of the members are extremely colorful, elaborate and detailed, they are truly original and made from scratch every year. These costumes are characterized by the use of mirrors, feathers, fabrics metallic, silk and jewelry. In addition, usually the costumes also carry with them the combination of the school colors, which has at least 2 or 3 colors.
The most prominent members of the schools, who are in the front line or have solo or paired pieces, are the ones who wear the most ostentatious costumes in the whole presentation.
As is well known, the parades at the sambadrome are a stiff competition between each of the schools. These parades are judged like any other sports competition, contest or contest. Each of the schools is judged under 10 main categories. Points are awarded by 4 jurors who are scattered throughout the sambadrome and each has their own identification. The results and scoring of each of the schools are made on Ash Wednesday.
Both groups are composed of professional samba schools. However, the parades performed by the samba schools in theSpecial Group are always more impressive. Generally, the schools that are in the Special Group have a little more time to develop their repertoires dance, carrozas and music. Also, depending on the performance of the schools in their presentations, they may move up or down in category, which would change the day of their presentation for the next year. Also, tickets to see Access Group or Series A schools are somewhat cheaper than Special Group. However, the price is also related to the type of seating and service you want to purchase.
No matter which group you want to see at the sambadrome, we assure you that the performances are always going to be amazing and flawless. Every year, the schools that are in Series A give their best to get into the Special Group. Likewise, all schools that are in the Special Group try to give the best presentation possible tomaintain their status and reputation at the Rio de Janeiro carnivals and nationwide.
The Parade of Champions is a final parade that takes place with the 6 schools with the best performance in the sambadrome parades. After announcing the results on Ash Wednesday, the following Saturday the six best schools return to the Sambadrome to say goodbye to the crowd and reaffirm their track record and reputation in Rio de Janeiro’s carnivals. The Parade of Champions is a day when members of the winning schools parade with great pride and excitement for the fruit of their training and dedication.
The Parades of Champions are somewhat less impressive than the parades held during the week. However, the stands are equally packed with spectators as each of the schools parade down the runway. This parade is attended mainly by members of the schools, their family members, friends and the people truly passionate about carnivals in the city.
Tickets for this parade are less expensive than the rest of the weekday performances. However, this does not mean that they are worse or less important. It’s the perfect option if you couldn’t get tickets for the Special Group or Access Group parades. Plus, at this parade you’ll be much more in touch with carnival fans. Thousands of locals gather for this parade, so you will be with the people who intensely live the carnivals in the city of Rio de Janeiro.
As with the other carnival parades, you mustpurchase your tickets in advance. In addition, the parades of the champions are held just like the regular parades, which begin during the night and end in the early hours of the morning.
The parades that are performed by the Access Group or Series A schools are always held on Friday and Saturday of Carnival, while the parades by the Special Group are held on Sunday and Monday of Carnival. The Parade of Champions is always held on the Saturday after Carnival.
Generally, there are 5 days of parades, being two for each category and a last one for the champion schools.