It's very easy. The Sambadrome - or Sambodromo - in Rio is the biggest stage on earth because it nightly hosts a parade with over 30,000 people showing off on a half a mile runway, to the delight of 80,000 spectators.
Designed by Oscar Neimeyer and built in 1984, the Rio de Janeiro Sambadrome is a massive concrete stadium-like structure built along both sides of Avenida Marques de Sapucai, designed to create a runway for the schools to parade down until they reach the Apotheosis Square at the end where they manifest the magnificent magic of Carnaval, and dare the awestruck onlookers to deem any show on earth worthy of comparison.
There are 12 samba schools from the 'special group' to perform. The first night, Sunday , 6 of these schools perform at the Sambadrome - Samba Parade Ground . Each of them has from 70 to 85 minutes to perform, and the parade finishes at the 'Praça da Apoteose' (the M shaped structure at the end of the avenue ). Each school has a different theme. Each samba school has an average of 4.000 participants.
Even though the Rio de Janeiro Carnival gets better and bigger each year, there is something extra special coming soon to the sambadrome. As you may be aware, the Rio Sambadrome is being reconstructed to include modernizations that will enhance the experience of every visitor. This includes adding more floats, and accommodating at least 80,000 people in sections 2, 4, 6, and 8. These new sections were added to the location where the Brahma Beer company used to be, plus a section of old luxury suites that were torn down.
There are also four large new buildings under development that will house frisas (boxes), luxury suites (camarotes), grandstands, and other seating arrangements. In addition, another five luxury suites are under construction between the grandstand blocks. Each of these new accommodations is expected to hold at least 60 people.
The luxury suites along the northern strip of the Sambadrome have been completely demolished and are being rebuilt and modernized. This entire project, with an estimated cost of $19 million dollars, was funded by a beer company. Its original plans were designed by Oscar Niemeyer, a famous architect known for tasteful and exciting building plans. Dubbed the Marques de Sapucai in honor of the samba school parades, this area is expected to help prepare the city to host the 2017 Olympics. It is also expected that this section of the Sambadrome reconstruction will host the archery competitions and marathon arrival.
Compare the old and the new Rio Sambadrome
If you thought the parades with all their floats was glamorous before, just wait until you see them on the expanded runway. Aside from being able to accommodate hundreds of additional floats, people will find it much easier to enjoy the walkway. This includes adding easier access to handicapped people in most of the sectors.
Once the expansions are complete, the Sambadrome will easily accommodate 80,000 people. Overall, each of the 4 new blocks will have enough grandstand space for 48 luxury suites that can accommodate 576 people, plus an additional 1194 spectators. This does not include the intermediary blocks that will house 5 more luxury suites which will each hold 60 people.
Not to be outdone by all the wonderful changes going on in the traditional Sambadrome area, even numbered buildings across the street are also being renovated. Even though these plans have been on hold since the mid 1980's, they feature food courts, brand new medical centers and bathrooms.
In case you are wondering, the Sambadrome is scheduled to be ready for visitors by January 7th, 2017. This will be right after the New Year, as well as the birthday of the architect, Oscar Niemeyer, who created all the plans for the newly designed Sambadrome. Since Niemeyer is alive and doing well at age 104, this celebration is sure to be even more special as everyone welcomes the grand opening of his latest architectural vision.
There are four types of tickets to the Rio de Janeiro Carnival samba parade.
Rio Carnival Tickets are general admission tickets offering great samba parade views from the elevated concrete steps of the Sambodromo. Grandstands tickets are not numbered except for Sector 9, which is the tourist sector. There are no actual chairs but bleachers made of big concrete steps. Read more about the Grandstands tickets, see images and maps and discover if they are for you.
Allocated chairs are assigned seats, available only on Sectors 12 and 13 of the Rio sambodromo and are the most affordable Rio carnival tickets at the sambodromo. They are located at the very end of the samba parade, close to the Apotheosis. The chairs are organized in an open-air theatre with the long lines of chairs facing the parade. Allocated chairs are ideal for those who want to secure a chair without paying the open box seat prices. Check images and get more information on the allocated chairs before you book your Rio Carnival tickets.
The Open Boxes or Frisas as they are known at the Rio Carnival Sambodromo, are the best, tickets you can get to watch the samba parades. The Open Box Sectors are located at the very floor level, as close to the runaway as it gets, in four rows of boxes, from A TO D. Each box sits six people in numbered chairs. A little coffee table completes the box space. Are Front Boxes your ideal type of tickets? Read more about the best Rio Carnival Tickets.
Luxury Suites, Camarotes or covered boxes tickets are available all along the Rio sambodromo, from Sector 2 to Sector 11. These are considered to be the most desired tickets, offering a great view of the show from a private suite with first-class waiter service, buffet and open bar. Luxury Suites may not be your best bet: because the suite window is not big enough for the 12 people per window to watch the show at the same time, we only recommend it for closed groups of 12, 24 or 36 people. Open Boxes might be a better option if you don't want to share the tiny space on the window with other guests. More info on the Luxury Suites.
The best way to get to the sambadrome is to follow your ticket location.
Since the Sambadrome is divided by even numbered sectors (North) and odd numbered sectors (South), it's important that you know your sector before hand. The best way to get to the Sambadrome is by subway or taxi. Whether your tickets are for even or odd numbered sectors will determine the way to go for your cab driver or the station in case you decide to use the subway (metro).
If your tickets are for Sectors 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 or 12, these are your best bets:
Taxi - pre-determined taxi companies serve the even sectors and there is plenty of information about them during Rio Carnaval. There is a tariff to leave the Sambadrome and the taximeter or an agreement with the passenger settles the journey to the place.
Subway - it goes uninterruptedly every-day to 11 pm of Tuesday, the last day of Rio Carnival, with intervals of 10 minutes. The getting off stop is always at Praça Onze station, no matter where from. Once outside the station, turn twice to your right and then walk straight ahead to Sector 2. To arrive at Sectors 4 and 6, turn on Rua Carmo Neto and keep walking until Av. Salvador de Sá. The Sambadrome can soon be seen and several signs show the entrance to the sectors.
If your tickets are for Sectors 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13, your options are as follows:
Taxi - special companies serve the odd numbered sectors as well, with fixed tariff. In any case, ordinary taxicabs take passengers to the Sambadrome charging what the taximeter shows or what has been agreed upon. For those who come from zona sul, the best route is through Santa Bárbara tunnel, and for those from zona norte via Rua Itapiru. In both cases the taxicab must go over Viaduto São Sebastião, which runs parallel to the Sambadrome. Right away the signs to the entrances of different sectors can be seen.
Subway - either from zona norte or zona sul, the getting off stop is Central. From there, walk to the Sambadrome, a long stretch of approximately 700 meters, going past the schools' allegorical cars and the Terreirão do Samba.
Bus - coming from zona sul or zona norte, it is important to make sure that the bus is going over Viaduto São Sebastião, as many lines change the itinerary during Rio Carnaval.
At most two 500ml plastic containers with beverages and two items of food, such as fruit and/or sandwich. Objects made of polystyrene, bottles, glasses, firecrackers and fireworks are strictly forbidden. A discardable raincoat should be considered for the eventuality of a summer shower. Umbrellas are not a good idea, as they can easily get in the way of other people's view of the parade.
At the Sambadrome there are shops and fast food kiosks in all sectors.