All about one of the most celebrated holidays with close to 1 million people in the festivities.
From March 1st through March 4th the people of the “marvellous city” will be celebrating Rio Carnival 2014. The clarion call throughout the streets will be “Let’s Party” and hundreds of thousands of travelers will meet that call by flocking into Rio for this vibrant celebration. While the street parties themselves are enough to satisfy any reveler's appetite there are still balls, parades and dance club celebrations to enjoy. Rio Carnival 2014 will culminate in a parade extravaganza unlike any other in the world.
While Rio Carnival 2014 promises to be a technological spectacle this was not always the case. When the Carnival was first celebrated in 1641 only a few masquerade balls were held. The Portuguese kicked it up a notch when they arrived in the early 1700s. Their Rio Carnival celebration consisted of throwing food, water, and mud at the crowds gathered in the streets. These street brawls progressed over the years to become formal and elaborate parades.
By the 1800s even the elite were getting involved, dressing up in luxurious costumes and parading through the streets. By the late 1800s the formal masquerade balls and celebrations had returned and revelers enjoyed dancing to the now popular waltz and polka. In the 1890s floats were added to the street parades and military bands were incorporated into the festival. Cordoes arose to organize these street parties. The Cordoes were groups of people, usually from a specific neighborhood, that coordinated the floats, music and parade routes. The Cordoes still exist today but are now called Blocos. The Blocos will be hosting several neighborhood parades and parties for Rio Carnival 2014.
Like all the Carnivals over the past few decades, Rio Carnival 2014 will celebrate the excitement and beauty of Samba music and Samba dancing. Although today’s Carnival focuses mostly on Samba that was not always the case. It was not until the African slaves were freed that Samba entered the Carnival scene. Samba originated from the percussion, music and dances of the African culture. Their rhythms became popular with the people of Brazil and quickly took over the Carnival scene.
As Samba became more and more popular, Samba schools began teaching the music and dance of the Samba to the locals. Today these Samba schools are the foundation of the Carnival. The first Samba School, Mangueira, opened its doors in 1928 and is still competing today. Some of the other older Samba schools that still parade include Unidos da Tijuca, Grande Rio, Salgueiro, Beija Flor, and Mocidade. It takes a full year for each Samba school to plan their show for the following year. As soon as the Carnival ends in 2013 the schools will meet to begin planning for Rio Carnival 2014.
In 1984 an arena called the Sambadrome was built to allow all the Samba schools to compete in one place. Stands were erected on both sides of the Sambadrome for spectators and now these are the hottest tickets in town during the Carnival. Planning for Rio Carnival 2014 will begin with a theme. The musicians in the Samba school will write a song along the given theme. Expert Samba dancers will then choreograph routines to that song. Architects, engineers and carpenters will build grand floats around the theme. Fashion designers and tailors will make costumes to fit the theme.
The costumes promise to be as spectacular as the rest of show with sequins, feathers, and yards of tulle, silk, and satin. Many of these costumes are quickly made, as there is very little material to cover the dancers. During the parade, each Samba school moves past a panel of 40 judges who score each school on several different categories. The school that earns the most points wins the competition.
The celebration for Rio Carnival 2014 will begin with the mayor of the city selecting a King. King Momo as he is called lets the city know it is time to celebrate; and block parties, concerts and special events begin to spring up all over Rio.
On Friday and Saturday of Carnival the Access or Gold Group competes at the Sambadrome. These groups hope to put on a show as good as the elite Samba schools so they can compete with them the following year. The most talented Samba schools, called the Special Group, compete on Sunday and Monday. Finally the newer schools or smaller and less experienced groups hold their competition at the Sambadrome on Tuesday. They too hope to advance up the rank to the Special Group. The Children's Parade take place at the Sambodromo on tuesday. Just like their parents these youngsters develop a theme, write a song and choreograph their own dances.The top 6 Samba school winners of the Special Group are invited back to Sambadrome to put on another show for the spectators.
Expect hundreds of balls to be held during Rio Carnival 2014. Some of these balls are costume or masquerade balls. The most popular is the ball held at the Hotel Copacabana Palace. This is one of the most sought after tickets in town as attendees will rub shoulders with the wealthy and famous of the world. Another of the most popular balls in Rio is the Gay Ball held at the Rio Scala. Drag queens plan all year round and fashion elaborate and often outrageous costumes. Everybody is welcome and it is advisable to leave prudish feelings at the door, as you are sure to see some brow raising sights.
Along with the balls and parades, Rio Carnival 2014 promises to deliver hundreds of neighborhood parades and street parties. These parties are held through the month of Carnival and are organized by the Blocos. The Blocos are Samba groups usually from a particular neighborhood. Some of these parties are so elaborate that they can attract upwards of 1 million people. Floats blasting out Samba music are accompanied by dancers and as they move through the streets spectators are welcome to join in the parade.
As there will be so many events occurring during Rio Carnival 2014 it would be wise for the traveler to rely on an agency familiar with Carnival bookings to reserve their trip. As hotel space fills quickly and tickets to balls and parades are a hot commodity it is advisable to plan as early as possible. For those travelers who really want to be a part of the action there are programs in place to join a Samba parade as it marches through the Sambadrome.