Summers may be hot in Rio but nothing can get hotter than the Rio Carnival 2015 where over a million visitors are expected to attend what is touted as the world’s biggest party. The Rio Carnival 2015 is the time to attend Carnival street parties, Carnival balls, and mix with the cariocas at street parties where all you need is a costume to join in and celebrate in true carioca style. While top samba schools battle it out at the Sambadrome for the coveted Champions title, putting up the biggest extravaganza possible, the Carnival balls at the Copa, and Scala are also well attended.
For those who desire to attend the Rio Carnival 2015 or any other future ones, it would be prudent to go back in time in Carnival history. Carnival balls were said to have been held way back in 1641 where the masses took part in nights of revelry, copying the festivals held by the upper class in France and other European countries. The Portuguese brought the Carnival to Brazil, where events that involved throwing mud and water were held throughout the city of Rio. Over the years the wild revelry gave way to sophisticated parades with elegant and elaborate costumes, which is what the Carnival is known for today. Earlier, the music at Carnivals included the polka and waltz, with masquerade balls held in Rio as early as 1841. The wife of an Italian ambassador held the first masquerade ball in the city, which was well attended by the elite Portuguese. Soon, military bands became the focus of attention at organized parades during the late 1890s. With the Carnival gaining popularity, neighborhoods formed groups that are now known as blocos, where the street parties take place. Make sure you attend one of these during the Rio Carnival 2015.
The rhythmic beats of the samba drummers are sure to intoxicate you during the Rio Carnival 2015. However, it is interesting to note that the samba only made it way to the Carnival in the 1920s. The word samba probably originates from the Angolan semba, a religious rhythm. The samba as brought to Brazil by African slaves who expressed their joys and sorrows during their days of slavery through song and dance. After the abolition of slavery many of the slaves settled in and around Rio, which is when samba gradually became the backbone of the Rio Carnival. Samba developed as a distinct type of music during this time. The word samba is said to come from the mesemba (Angolan samba), which is a religious rhythm.
The distinct rhythms of the samba did not take long to permeate its way through the hearts of millions of cariocas. An increasing number of blocos soon paved the way for greater competition and the development of samba schools, set up by neighborhoods. Mangueira is the first samba school that brought together people from its neighborhood to create samba themes, songs, and dance steps for the Carnival. Samba schools began to develop rapidly as the competition got hotter with Mocidade, Beija Flor, Unidos da Tijuca, and Salgueiro being formed. Today, there are several samba schools that vie for the top position every year at the Sambadrome, now the very heart of samba parades and competition during the Rio Carnival. Each school spends the entire year planning for the next Carnival and you can be sure they are on their way to putting up the best performance at the Rio Carnival 2015.
The pioneer of modern architecture was the brain behind the design and construction of the Sambadrome, built in 1984. With samba schools increasing by the year, the streets were no longer the ideal place to host the major event at the Rio Carnival. Located at Marquês de Sapucaí Street, the Sambadrome consists of a runway on which the schools conduct their performance. The runway has concrete structures on both sides that can accommodate approximately 80,000 spectators. At the very heart of each samba school are the members that include composers, musicians, fashion designers, artisans, carpenters, electricians, and thousands of general workers that are proud to put up the grandest performance at the ‘biggest party on the planet, which will get even bigger at the Rio Carnival 2015.
Samba schools choose a theme for their parade. Often, these themes are about well-known personalities or social issues related to the city of Rio. The composers and musicians build up a samba song based on the theme, which is then brought to life by choreographers and samba dancers that finally results in what we see at the Sambadrome. The team is supported by parade floats that are technological marvels in their own right. For the complete visual experience, hundreds of designers and seamstresses work hard to create costumes based on the theme. All their hard work is at the hands of a panel of 40 judges that reward the schools with points. The school with the highest points is rewarded with the prestigious championship title, a dream of every samba school. The title brings with it plenty of benefits for the members of the school that are predominantly from the lower strata of society.
Carnival week is a week jam packed with events held all over the city. From the Sambadrome to Carnival balls and street parties, there are numerous bashes to attend during the Carnival that begins with the crowning of King Momo by the mayor of Rio.
Carnival Friday and Saturday are the nights to watch the lesser-experienced samba schools in the Access Group putting up a grand show in a bid to enter the Special Group, which is a place in the top 12 samba schools, the following year. For the ultimate in entertainment, Carnival Sunday and Monday are the days to head to the Sambadrome when the top 12 samba schools strut their stuff in a bid to gain favor with the judges and win the coveted Champion’s title. The Children's Parade take center stage at the Sambadrome on Carnival Tuesday, heralding the end of competition. The results of the championship are declared on Ash Wednesday, an event awaited with bated breath by cariocas around the city.
The Magic Ball at the Copacabana Palace Hotel is an event worth attending, budget permitting. The extravagant event is well attended by well-known celebrities including film stars, football stars, politicians, and others from around the globe, who adorn flamboyant costumes each competing for the best costume of the night. Tickets for the televised event at the Copa sell out fast. If you wish to rub shoulders with the elite then this is one of the events you ought to attend. One of the most outlandish yet entertaining events is the Scala Gay Ball at the Scala Rio Nightclub in downtown Rio. Women dressed as men, men dressed as women, drag queens in the most exotic costumes, the Gay Ball is one event to attend whether you are gay or straight during the Rio Carnival 2015.
Rio parties continue in every street corner where most can be attended free. These street parties are some of the wildest parties organized in neighborhoods by blocos, who are groups of neighbors that plan parades and build floats that are as elaborate as the ones you may witness at the Sambadrome. Don’t miss to attend Banda da Ipanema, one of the biggest street parades, where samba is at its best on the streets of Rio. These parties attract thousands of people and run through most of the month of February.
The Rio Carnival 2015 promises to be an even bigger festival of pomp and circumstance. If you are keen on taking part make sure to book your hotel rooms and tickets to the Sambadrome early. Don’t forget to soak in the entertainment at the Carnival balls. Be it the Magic Ball or Gay Ball, you still need to book your seats on time.
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