What is Carnival?

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2017 RIO CARNIVAL

So, you've been wondering what's Carnival and want to know the significance of it as well as how carnival dates are really calculated.

If you are like everybody else, you have probably asked yourself - before taking part of Rio Carnival or any other Carnival festivals in Brazil - what's the significance of Carnival?

Carnival backgrounds come from Christianity. Carnaval marked the last opportunity to celebrate and make use of special foods before Lent, a six-week period where no parties or other celebrations were accepted, with people refraining from eating rich foods, recalling the biblical account of the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness. Lent serves to mark an annual time of turning to God and religious discipline.

Carnival was then exported to Brazil by the Portuguese, who organized masquerade balls, held by members of the elite, while processions with decorated carriages in allegorical themes took over the streets, in the mid nineteenth century. That was the begining of the today famous Samba Parade at the Sambodromo.

Music specially made for the Rio Carnival emerged in the beginning of the twentieth century by composers like Chiquinha Gonzaga and others. It was not before 1930 that the competition between different samba schools became institutionalized. In 1932, the samba school Mangueira won the first price for its performance in the Rio Carnival Parade.

 

Curiosity

How do you calculate the carnival date?

One of the most frequent questions we get from friends and clients is "what is the date of Carnaval this year?". Well, this is not an easy question to answer. It takes someone to be part astrologer, part mathematician, and part priest! Here is how you calculate the carnival date:

50-47 days before the first Sunday after the first full moon after Vernal Equinox, or in layman's terms, Ash Wednesday is calculated as 46 days before Easter Sunday, and carnaval falls on the 4 days before Ash Wednesday. Complicated, no?

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro Schedule
Carnival in Rio de Janeiro Schedule

Year From To
  FRIDAY WEDNESDAY OF ASHES
2016 February 5, 2017 February 10, 2017
2017 February 24, 2017 March 1, 2017
2018 February 9, 2018 February 14, 2018
2019 March 1, 2019 March 6, 2019
2020 February 21, 2020 February 26, 2020
2021 February 12, 2021 February 17, 2021
2022 February 25, 2022 March 2, 2022
2023 February 17, 2023 February 22, 2023
2024 February 9, 2024 February 14, 2024
2025 February 28, 2025 March 5, 2025
2026 February 13, 2026 February 18, 2026
2027 February 5, 2027 February 10, 2027
2028 February 25, 2028 March 1, 2028
2029 February 9, 2029 February 14, 2029
2030 March 1, 2030 March 6, 2030
     
Main Rio Carnival Balls
Magic Ball at the Copa Gala Gay Scala Rio

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Scala Ball

 

Scala Ball in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

 

Scala Ball

February 6, 2017 February 9, 2017
February 25, 2017 February 28, 2017
February 10, 2018 February 13, 2018
March 2, 2019 March 5, 2019
February 22, 2020 February 25, 2020
February 13, 2021 February 16, 2021
February 26, 2022 March 1, 2022
February 18, 2023 February 21, 2023
February 10, 2024 February 13, 2024
March 1, 2025 February 17, 2025
February 14, 2026 February 17, 2026
February 6, 2027 February 9, 2027
February 26, 2028 February 29, 2028
February 10, 2029 February 13, 2029
March 2, 2030 March 5, 2030
   

Main Samba Parades at Sambodromo
Main Samba Parades at Sambodromo

Access Group
or Gold Group - Day 1
FRIDAY
Access Group
or Gold Group - Day 2
SATURDAY
Special Group
Day 1
SUNDAY
Special Group
Day 2
MONDAY
Winners Parade
or Champions Parade
SATURDAY
February 13, 2015 February 14, 2015 February 15, 2015 February 16, 2015 February 21, 2015
February 5, 2017 February 6, 2017 February 7, 2017 February 8, 2017 February 13, 2017
February 24, 2017 February 25, 2017 February 26, 2017 February 27, 2017 February 17, 2017
February 9, 2018 February 10, 2018 February 11, 2018 February 12, 2018 February 17, 2018
March 1, 2019 March 2, 2019 March 3, 2019 February 17, 2019 March 9, 2019
February 21, 2020 February 22, 2020 February 23, 2020 February 24, 2020 February 29, 2020
February 12, 2021 February 13, 2021 February 14, 2021 February 15, 2021 February 20, 2021
February 25, 2022 February 26, 2022 February 27, 2022 February 28, 2022 March 5, 2022
February 17, 2023 February 18, 2023 February 19, 2023 February 20, 2023 February 25, 2023
February 9, 2024 February 10, 2024 February 11, 2024 February 12, 2024 February 17, 2024
February 28, 2025 March 1, 2025 March 2, 2025 March 3, 2025 March 8, 2025
February 13, 2026 February 14, 2026 February 15, 2026 February 16, 2026 February 21, 2026
February 5, 2027 February 6, 2027 February 7, 2027 February 8, 2027 February 13, 2027
February 25, 2028 February 26, 2028 February 27, 2028 February 28, 2028 February 17, 2028
February 9, 2029 February 10, 2029 February 11, 2029 February 12, 2029 February 17, 2029
March 1, 2030 March 2, 2030 March 3, 2030 February 17, 2030 March 9, 2030
         

be an expert on rio carnival get the facts and the schedule of events

Read More about Carnival

Why Rio Carnival attracts half a Million People yearly

The Brazilians are undoubtedly an esthetically gifted race, especially the women, a fact which is proved well enough at the Rio Carnival held every year. Attractive, sensual, graceful – call them what you prefer, women at the four-day holiday party leading up to Lent, are at the forefront of all the fun and frolic. The Carnival is celebrated in every town and village across Brazil. However, the Rio Carnival is the biggest, most vibrant and artistic event that attracts over 500,000 visitors every year.

King Momo rules Rio de Janeiro during Carnival

The crowning of King Momo or Fat King marks the beginning of the Rio Carnival, who is handed over a giant silver and gold key by Rio’s mayor. The already frenetic city is consumed by its own passion and does not need an excuse to set Rio’s Sambadrome stadium alive with the biggest display of flamboyant costumes, colorful and fantastically decorated floats, expert dancers and you guessed right, the rhythm of the Samba. Come Carnival time and the world has its eyes only on Rio. A truly exhilarating and emotional experience even if you are a welcome visitor not directly under the spotlights.

Poor Communities play the most Important role at Rio Carnival

Even the poorest neighborhoods are equal participants in the parade. For those from the favelas or slums this is the opportune moment to forget about their hardships and join in the festivities. In fact, they are an integral part of the Carnival and members of a local samba school. Be it the designing and making of costumes, the construction of floats, or the organization of events, the residents of the favelas are active participants in anything to do with the carnival. Ask any favela resident what they are passionate about and the answer will always be football and the Carnival

300 Street Bands make the Inferno of Samba.

The greatest element of the Rio de Janeiro Carnival is not only the entertainment it provides, but also a chance to experience and learn more about the culture of Brazil with the mighty Sambadrome in the forefront. Over 300 street bands provide hours of pulsating music for the many samba parades, blocos and bandas.

Not many know how to party like the Brazilians and Carnival time turns the city into an inferno of Samba, pulsating rhythms, costumes that are out of this world, amazing dance performances and plenty of skin.



 

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