In late summer in Rio de Janeiro, from February 13th through the 17th, Rio Carnival 2015 will be celebrated by over 1 million visitors as well as local residents. With hundreds of street parties and balls there is plenty to do for everyone. Rio Carnival 2015 will culminate when the top Samba schools in Rio compete with each other to put on the best parade extravaganza possible.
During Rio Carnival 2016 the Samba schools will use the most modern technology possible to create jaw dropping show parades. Back in 1641 when the precursor to the modern Carnival was celebrated it consisted of a few elegant balls and masquerade dances. These balls were held to mirror the upper class festivals taking place in Paris and other major European cities.
When the Portuguese immigrants began to settle in Rio they brought with them their love of rough play, pelting friends and family with food, water and mud into the celebrations of the Carnival. Over the years the street fights became sophisticated parades filled with the aristocracy walking through the neighborhoods dressed in elegant and expensive costumes.
With the rise in popularity of the polka and waltz, balls and dances returned to the Carnival. By the 1890s the parades were becoming much more organized with military bands and elaborate floats. Cordoes (neighborhood folks) started to get together to plan their parades. These Cordoes are the forerunners of the Blocos who will be planning the street parties for Rio Carnival 2016.
Like past Carnivals, Rio Carnival 2016 will be infused with the sounds of the Samba. It was not always this way. When Africans were brought to Brazil as slaves they carried with them their music and dance. This African beat was incorporated into the music of the Carnival. The distinctive African rhythm accompanied by a drum backbeat gradually developed into what we call Samba today.
It did not take long for Samba to grow in popularity. As more and more people wanted to learn Samba dancing and music Samba schools began opening around Rio. These Samba schools began organizing shows for Carnival. Naturally competitions sprang up between the schools.
The first school to teach Samba was Mangueira. It opened in 1928 and will be competing in Rio Carnival 2016. Mocidade, Salgueiro, Beija Flor, Unidos da Tijuca and Grande Rio are other older Samba schools that will also compete. The Samba schools begin planning their spectacular Carnival shows as soon as the previous Carnival is over. It takes that long to plan and execute a successful Samba parade.
To gather all the Samba school parades in one place the Sambadrome was built in 1984. This allowed spectators to purchase tickets and enjoy assigned seating to watch the parades. To plan for Rio Carnival 2016 the Samba schools will first decide on a theme for their extravaganza. Next the school composers and musician write a song about the chosen theme. Once the song is complete, choreographers and dancers make up several different routines to be used during the Sambadrome show.
While the dancers are completing their choreography the engineers and carpenters get together to build grand technological marvels they call parade floats. Finally the most spectacular sight of all, the costumes, are designed to compliment the theme. On competition day the Samba schools put their best foot forward in front of 40 judges. The school that gets the most points earns the title of Samba Champion for the year.
The Rio Carnival 2016 celebration begins with the crowning of King Momo by the city’s mayor. It is the responsibility of King Momo to spread that word that the Carnival has begun. Balls, street parties, and dances begin to spring up all over the city.
On Friday and Saturday of Carnival the Access or Gold Group competes at the Sambadrome. Finally the new schools get a chance to strut their stuff with their own Samba parade competition. 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 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.
Rio Carnival 2016 will promise to be a festival of fun with balls and costume parties. Over 300 balls are held annually. The ball at the Copacabana Palace Hotel is the most sought after ticket in town. Here participants can rub shoulders with the elite of the world. International celebrities, the wealthy and local stars all attend this ball. Perhaps just as popular but much more outlandish is the Gay Ball at Rio Scala. Drag queens throughout the city and around the world put together elaborate costumes to dazzle other dancers. Everyone is welcome to this ball regardless of sexual orientation.
Some of the wildest parties are those organized by the Blocos. The Blocos are groups of neighbors who work together to plan street parties during the Carnival. They plan the parades and build floats that wind through the streets blasting Samba music. These street parties are quite rowdy and some can attract as many as 1 million people. The parties will run throughout the month of February during Rio Carnival 2016.
The Carnival is one of the most popular celebrations in the world. Travelers from around the world flock to Rio de Janeiro annually to take part in the fun. If you are going to attend the Rio Carnival 2016 it is advisable to plan as far ahead as possible. Hotel rooms and tickets to the Sambadrome disappear very quickly.