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Rio de Janeiro Carnival Frequently Asked Questions

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Whenever we attend an event of great proportions, some doubts arise about what we can or cannot do during the celebration. We offer you some answers to the most frequently asked questions about the Rio de Janeiro Carnivals. In addition, we provide you with some key concepts that you will probably need when you visit the city during carnival season. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about the Rio de Janeiro Carnival.

Content of this article

What is Rio de Janeiro Carnival?

Rio de Janeiro Carnival is an incredible show considered the best carnival celebration in the world. Despite the parades at the sambódromo Marquês de Sapucaí, the city offers many other events such as presentation of blocos and theme parties in the different establishments of the city. Rio de Janeiro Carnival has influenced dozens of parties in the Americas, including some celebrations in other continents.

What are the blocos?

The blocos arestreet bands that congregate hundreds of thousands of people in the streets and are the main popular manifestation of the Brazilian Carnival. These blocos usually perform spectacles integrating one of the most popular musical genres in the country known as samba. However, there are several cities in the country that have other genres such as frevo, maracatu and axé. Blocos can be small, counting with a few percussionists and sometimes singers or be extremely large and count with hundreds of musicians and severalElectric Trios.

What is an Electric Trio?

AnElectric Trio, or Trio Elétrico in Portuguese, is a large truck equipped with horns that plays various musical styles during carnivals. These types of trucks can even hold several people on them or even perform concerts from the top of the truck. These trucks were created in the city Salvador in the state of Bahia, Brazil.

How many types of blocos are there?

The Carnival is celebrated throughout Brazil, so there are several types of genres and varieties of blocos. These blocos can vary in style and some of these have been influenced by cultures from other continents. Some of the types of blocos that can be found in Brazil are: Bloco Afro with influences from African culture, Bloco Caricato typical of Belo Horizonte in Minas Gerais, Blocos de Enredo similar to the shows offered by samba schools, Bloco lírico with expressions of frevo genres, Bloco de sujo consisting of improvisation and Bloco das piranhas with transvestite men.

How many Blocos does the Rio de Janeiro Carnival have?

During the carnivals inthe city of Rio de Janerio more than 400 blocos perform. Some of the most famous blocos are: Cordão da Bola Preta, Bloco da Preta, Sargento Pimenta, Carmelitas, Simpatia é Quase Amor, Suvaco de Cristo, Cordão do Boitatá, Céu na Terra, Que Merda é Essa? ! and Banda de Ipanema.

Where can you find blocos in the city of Rio de Janeiro?

Blocos perform all over the city, from downtown to the beaches. There are some groups that tend to perform in the same area every year. However, every year the locations of the various blocos are updated.

Do I have to pay to see the blocos in the street?

No,the blocos performance is completely free. The blocos performances are known as the popular carnival, exclusively for people.

When do the blocos perform in the city of Rio de Janeiro?

The blocos perform the entire week of carnival. However, there are some blocos that start performing as early as January and may extend their performances until after carnival. What time do the Rio de Janeiro Carnival blocos perform?

The blocos perform continuously in various locations throughout the city. They can start performing as early as 8 a.m. and run until midnight.

Can I bring children to the blocos?

The answer is yes and no. Technically yes you can go with them, although this might be a bad idea. Generally, the presentations are packed with people, so children could easily lose you. An alternative for this type of case is to attend the different attractions in the city of Rio that are suitable for children.

Should I dress up to go to the Rio de Janeiro Carnival blocos?

Despite the fact that some blocos encourage the use of costumes in their presentations,there is no rule that tells you that you must wear costumes. However, it is a good idea to attend presentations with some fun costumes.

What precautions should I take to attend Rio de Janeiro’s blocos during carnivals?

To have the best party experience with the Rio city blocos we recommend the following:

  • Eat well before you go and drink plenty of water.
  • Bring your own portable glass or thermos to pour your drinks. Better yet if it has a strap that you can put around your neck and a lid.
  • Make sure to apply sunscreen regularly.
  • Because the blocos are crowded, it’s possible to lose or have some of your belongings stolen. We recommend you take few valuables, certified copies of your important documents, do not wear jewelry or watches and carry little cash.


Can I take breaks between blocks?

Yes, you have the option to leave the block enclosure to take some rest, eat or go to the bathroom in the various equipped areas.

What is the carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro?

The parades are big presentations of the different samba schools that are established in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Each of the schools must put on a presentation containing carriages, large colorful costumes and spectacular choreography. These presentations must be completely spectacular, as each of the schools is judged by a panel of professional judges.


What is a samba school?

Samba schools are popular associations that perform samba dancing and singing presentations, almost always in competition mode. Samba schools can perform in the street, in enclosed spaces or even in unique spaces for their presentations known as sambódromo. Most schools parade on foot and the larger groups have large themed floats where members of the groups are also placed. The samba schools can have few or many members, all depending on the school’s trajectory and objectives. In the Rio de Janeiro Carnival there are 2 categories of schools: Access Group and Special Group. In addition, the winners of the presentations once again participate in an event known as Desfile das Campeãs or Parade of the Champions in Spanish.

What is the difference between the Acesim Group Special Group and Champion parades?

TheAccess Group schools parade on the first two days, on Friday and Saturday. They are schools that compete for belonging to the Special Group. Although the schools that are part of this category are professional, they do not have the same technique. Also, the value of the entries for this category is usually lower. The Special Group schools parade on Sunday and Monday Carnival. They are the 12 schools that were considered the best of the previous year with the best executed dance and music repertoires. During the Champions Parade, the winning school and the 5 best subsequent schools of the Special Group Parade hold a big party.

How different are the two categories?

All the schools comprising these categories boast an impeccable level of execution. However, the schools comprising the Special Group tend to be more demanding and better crafted. Despite this, let’s remember that the parade also functions as a competition, so all the schools give their best to perform the best show. In both cases you will have an incredible experience, so we believe that what can determine which parade to attend is the price and the day you can attend the sambadrome.


What is the Marquês de Sapucaí sambódromo?

The Sambódromo Marquês de Sapucaí, also known as Passarela Professor Darcy Ribeiro or simply sambódromo, is a parade area built specifically for the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro during Carnival seasons. The venue is located in Ciudade Nova and is the meeting point for tourists and residents to watch the spectacular parades of the samba schools in the various categories. The sambadrome has several spaces for the enjoyment of the show during the carnival season.


What kind of seating is available at the Sambódromo Marquês de Sapucaí?

Currently, there are 4 types of seats you can purchase to see the show: numbered seats, bleachers, frisas and camarotes, the price of which range from lower to higher in the order mentioned. However, each of them has its own characteristics. Despite the chairs being cheaper, they do not have a good view. The grandas have an aerial view, but can be somewhat uncomfortable. Frisas and cabins have the best view and comfort, although they are the most expensive options.

What are the best seats?

The best seats are those located in the dressing rooms. These spaces have air conditioning, VIP services, buffet, open bar, transportation with bilingual guide, waiters, additional securityand decorated ambience. It is the best option you will be able to get at the sambódromo, even if it is the most expensive.What type of seat can I buy if I am on a tight budget?

The cheapest seats are the bleachers in sectors 12 and 13, which are considered the popular bleachers. However, the view from those seats is not that impressive. If you can pay a little more, you can purchase tickets for the numbered seats in sectors 2, 3, 10 or 11. In addition, there is also the possibility of paying in installments in case you do not have all the money at the time of paying the ticket.

When should I buy or reserve seats?

As soon as possible as tickets sell out in no time.

What should I consider when purchasing my seats?

You should take into consideration the pros and cons of each of the seats. Also, be sure to purchase tickets on the day you can, indicating the type of sector and seats that best suit you.

In which of the sectors does the parade begin and end?

The parades begin in the sector 2 area and end in the sector 13 area. The sector 1 area is where the school concentration occurs.

Which are the best sectors

The best sectors are those with the best view of what is happening on the track. In this case, the best views are from sector 4 to sector 11. Sectors 6 to 9 are possibly the best within the previous category, since that is where the judges are concentrated, so the schools stand out while they are in these sectors. In addition, we recommend you purchase the frisas in these sectors, as not only will you have the best view, but you will be in the most comfortable seats, but not the most expensive.

How much do the seats cost at the Rio de Janeiro carnival sambadrome?

As we mentioned before, the prices of the seats change according to the type of service, the sector and the area of the seats themselves. The seats can range from 88 Brazilian reais, which is equivalent to about US$20, to 65,900 Brazilian reais, which is equivalent to about US$12,000 approximately. Remember that the most expensive option are the cabins and these include a wide variety of services. In addition, the sector where the seats are located also influences the total price. Finally, the days on which the special groups parade are much more expensive than the days of the Access Group.

If I live outside Brazil, can I buy the seats?

You can purchase tickets through the internet, buying the tickets with credit card. However,the tickets for the sambadrome are not shipped outside the Brazilian territory or city, you will have to pick them up once you are in the country.

Are there special prices?

Yes, students and seniors pay only half the entrance fee in sectors 12 and 13.

When and how can I receive the tickets I bought?

The company organizing the event only issues the tickets between 1 and 2 weeks before the event. Therefore, tickets cannot be sent out earlier. You can go to pick up the tickets at the physical store of the organization or they can do the shipping of the tickets themselves, only if you have already cancelled for them and you are within the city.

Is it safe to go to the sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro?

Yes, it is safe. Because there is a large concentration of national and international celebrities, politicians and important people in the crowd, the security of the area and the city during that season is quite efficient. In addition, there are some barricades around the venue and thousands of police representatives and private security inside the Sambódromo. The sambadrome is considered the safest place on the continent during the carnival season.

Can children enter the sambadrome?

Yes, children can enter the sambadrome grounds. However, children are only allowed to enter if they are at least 5 years old. The venue authorities may ask for some information to verify age.

Is there a refund or cancellation policy?

Yes, but cancellation will only be accepted up to 30 days prior to the event. In addition, the cancellation of the ticket purchase has a fee of 50% of the total purchase. Refunds are not accepted when the service has already been used.

Can I bring food into the Sambadrome?

Yes, you can bring food into the venue. However, the organization has quite defined rules. The spectator can take up to 2 plastic containers of 500 ml with drink, either water, juice, soda, beer or any other beverage of your choice. In addition, you can also enter with 2 food items, these can be fruits, salty food or a sandwich.  Glass containers are completely forbidden.

The seats of the grandas are made of concrete, can I bring something to cushion my seat?

Yes, you can bring whatever you need to cushion the seat. The organization allows you to enter with pillows or rugs in the bleacher area.

Does the sambadrome have private bathrooms?

Yes, you can find several restrooms in the different sectors of the sambadrome.

Can I take pictures during the parade?

Of course! You can take as many pictures and videos as you want. In addition, you can also bring binoculars or any other tool that will allow you to better visualize the parade.

What shouldn’t I bring to the sambadrome?

As we told you before, the venue allows you to enter with 2 plastic bottles and 2 pieces of food. However, it also has strict rules about what you can’t bring to the sambadrome. Glass bottles, firecrackers and fireworks are completely and utterly forbidden. In addition, foam spray, bags, weapons and cutting instruments are not allowed. Despite this, you may bring a raincoat in case it rains during the event. However, it is not recommended to bring umbrellas, as these may block the view of any other spectators.

Are there entrances or seating for people with limited mobility?

Yes, the venue has two designated areas for people with limited mobility. One of the areas is located next to Praça da Apoteose. In this sector there are about 270 seats available for people with limited physical mobility, which is located in sector 13. Tickets for this area are free of charge and distributed by the Association for people with physical disabilities at Riotur or at the City Hall. The second area is located in sector 4, with 25 seats designated for people with limited mobility and seats for their companions.

What time do the parades start?

The parades of the Access Group schools start at 8 pm, while the Special Group schools start at 11 pm. The parade of champions also begins at 11 p.m.

What time should I arrive at the sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro?

Gates to the venue open at 5pm, but the dshows formally begin at 8pm or 11pm, depending on which day you’re attending. If you decide to opt for unnumbered seating, you can arrive early to try to get the best seats in the grands. However, if you have already made a reservation and have numbered seats, you can arrive at any time you want, as your seat is guaranteed. However, remember that traffic in the city will be quite difficult for the season, so we still recommend arriving as early as possible.

Can I attend the samba school rehearsals?

If you are in town months before the carnivals, you may be able to attend the school rehearsals. These rehearsals are completely free. However, they are not as spectacular as the original parades, they will only give you a sort of idea of what you will be able to see during the carnival season.

How can I get to the Sapucaí sambadrome?

The best way is to use the shuttle service provided by the event organizers. This service takes you to the sambódromo and other points of the city. If you want to use public transportation, the city subway is the best and safest option to take you to the sambadrome.

How do I get to the city of Rio de Janeiro?

The city of Rio de Janeiro has some alternatives if you want to get to the city during the carnival season.

How to get there by plane

If you are already in the country, your best option to get to the city is the Santos Dumont Airport, as it operates nationally. If you are outside the country, your best option is the Airport Internacional Antônio Carlos Jobim, also known as Galeão International Airport.

How to get there by sea

The city receives some boats and cruise ships, especially during the months of December and March.

How to get there by bus

The city’s bus terminal receives buses from the main cities of the country.

How to get there by car

If coming from Belo Horizonte, you can take BR-040. Going from São Paulo, you can take the Via Dutra. From some other city south of Rio de Janeiro, you can use the Rodovia BR-101