Rio Carnival is a wild 4 day celebration, 40 days before Easter. It officially starts on Saturday and finishes on Fat Tuesday with the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday after which one is supposed to abstain from all bodily pleasures. Carnival with all its excesses, celebrated as a profane event, can be considered an act of farewell to the pleasures of the flesh. It usually happens in February, the hottest month in the Southern Hemisphere, when the Rio summer is at its peak.
There are carnival celebrations in virtually every corner of Brazil, the best-known ones taking place in Recife together with the neighboring Olinda (in the North of Brazil) and Salvador. But the biggest and most famous carnival is undoubtedly the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro.
In Rio, things are never done in half measure — except, of course, when it comes to wearing bikinis — and the no-holds-bar spirit is evident from the pomp and circumstance with which the Carnival is celebrated. Since 1984, all the excitement of Rio Carnival has taken place at the Sambadrome, the purpose-built venue constructed specially for the occasion. Before its construction, the Samba parades were held on one of the most important streets in downtown Rio de Janeiro, Presidente Vargas Avenue. The pulsating beats of the samba drums, gyrating dancers, and the thousands of participants in curve-hugging and elaborate costumes, midriff tops, and stilettos are only some of the highs in store to be experienced at Rio Carnival 2013.
All else comes to a halt during the four days of Rio Carnival, with the exception of samba, women, beer, and partying all night long. Once the Sambadrome empties, the parties continue at every street corner all over the city. Throughout the neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro, Cariocas (or Rio de Janeiro locals) celebrate the arrival of Rio Carnival. People dance along the streets singing the legendary songs of the Samba. In a truly unique exhibition and celebration of unity and common ground, everyone in Rio comes together in friendship and fun to enjoy the Rio Carnival balls, Rio Carnival in the street with street parades, blocos, bandas and street parties — and of course, the excitement that takes place in the Sambadrome. During Carnival, Cariocas make no distinction between locals and foreigners, who are most welcome to participate in all aspects of the event. In fact, visitors can grab a place on the samba runway as a participant parading alongside one of the samba schools. All you need is to buy one of the school specific costumes and you are a part of the team. Your energy, enthusiasm and excitement will contribute to the success or failure of your Samba School in the final results of the Rio Carnival Sambadrome Parade.
The Samba Parade is the highlight of the Rio Carnival and it involves people in various neighborhoods coming together to form a highly detailed and organized group that will compete against one another through displays of costumes, dances, floats, and songs as coordinated by a designer. Each samba school presents a theme and everything displayed is judged overall. This highly competitive event is held in the grand venue called the Sambodromo (Sambadrome as it is known in English), in which visitors can purchase tickets to, to witness the outstanding parade, while many others can catch the broadcast of it on TV.
Topless members of the Ukrainian feminist group Femen have disrupted carnival traffic at Rio de Janeiro's international airport with a topless protest against against sexual tourism. The activists, who wore only knickers, shouted slogans such as "Brazil is not a whorehouse" and "sex tourists go home" as tourists arrived on a flight from Italy. They also held sign boards reading, "cheap pretty woman".
A woman smiles for a photo at the ‘Carnaval na Central’ carnival block parade, in central station, during pre-celebrations in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Feb. 2, 2013. (Felipe Dana/AP Photo)
/ Associated Press
In this photo taken Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, samba dancer Diana Prado, right, is with her costume as she prepares for a carnival parade at central station in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Though samba dancers, or "passistas," as they're known in Portuguese, are unquestionably the star attractions of the world's most iconic Carnival celebrations, they're not on the payroll
A couple dressed as clowns participate in the "Cordao da Bola Preta" street carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013. According to Rio's tourism office, Rio's street Carnival this year will consist of 492 block parties, attended by an estimated five million Carnival enthusiasts. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)