Carnival fever in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Time to step into a whirlwind of shimmer, samba and non-stop partying!

Every year over 500,000 foreign visitors are attracted to the world’s biggest party, the Rio Carnival in Brazil. The festival causes the whole city to come to a complete standstill for a week as celebrations continue throughout the day and night. Traditional samba music is played and danced to and colourful costumes and floats parade through the streets.

This vibrant and colourful festival is usually held in February or the beginning of March, the week before Lent. The celebrations start on a Saturday and finish on fat Tuesday (Marti-Gras).

Check out our top tips and essential Brazilian Portuguese carnival vocabulary to make sure you make the most of your trip!

Top tips for Rio Carnival:

1. Organise and book your accommodation well in advance! The best hotels in the zona sul (South Rio) get booked up very early!

2. Buy your Rio Carnival ticket in advance. Tickets to watch the parade can sell out months beforehand – and although ticket prices to watch the Sambadrome parade can reach $200, it is definitely worth seeing! (The best viewing is in section 13).

3. Ensure you have your carnival costume ready and indulge in the Brazilian festival and culture. Let you hair down and dance with the locals and you’ll really feel part of the festivities.

4. Make sure you have plenty of money before the carnival starts, as banks are closed for the week and cash deposit machines are known to run dry.

5. The best form of transport for getting around the festival is a taxi, as they are not very expensive.

6. Make sure you get a map of the local blocos (street parties) so you can enjoy the after party into the early hours of the morning!

Essential words and phrases for Rio Carnival:

Hello Olá
Please Por favor
Thank you Obrigado (masculine)
Obrigada (feminine)
Dance Dançar
Sing Cantar
Lent Quaresma
The lady who holds the samba school flag Porta-bandeira
Partying Festejando
Music Música
Do you speak English? Fala Inglés?
I’m called Me chamo
Cool Legal
Street parties Blocos
Beautiful Belo
Colourful Colorido
Amazing Surpreendente
Costumes Vestuário
Floats Flutua

Carnival Phrases:

How much is a ticket? Quanto custa uma passagem?
I like your outfit Eu gosto da sua roupa.
How do you get to the parade Como faço para chegar ao desfile?
I think they are the best samba school Eu acho que eles são a melhor escola de samba.
Let’s dance! Vamos dançar!
I need to buy a costume Eu preciso comprar uma fantasia.
I love to party Eu amo festejar.
I’m so tired I have not slept in days! Estou tão cansada que não durmo em dias

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