Choose the best blocos to go and make a remarkable Carnival.
During Rio Carnival week there are street parties all over town. The largest can attract upwards of a few hundred thousand revelers. These parties can spring up spontaneously at corner bars or cafes wherever people gather. Otherwise they can be formally planned by groups called Blocos and Bandas. It is the planned parties that everyone looks forward to year in and year out.
Cinelandia is one of the biggest areas for street parties during Rio Carnival. Throughout the Carnival popular bands, singers and orchestras take to the stage located on the square to help keep the party going. Most of the singers are from the 1940s to the 1960s and they sing primarily Samba music. The street parties in this neighborhood are particularly popular with the working class and senior citizens.
The area outside of the Sambadrome is another popular venue for street parties. During parade nights thousands of people gather around the amphitheater, many dressed in costumes, to enjoy an evening of gaiety. This gathering is quite spontaneous and relies on the enthusiasm of the crowd to keep the party going. Not far away is Samba Land where people can go to experience the true Carnival atmosphere with many bands and over 50 booths selling various different types of food.
Rio Carnival street bands also generate some of the largest parades and street parties. The bands usually walk a parade route and partygoers join in the procession as the band passes by. There are around 300 bands that should be taking to the streets during Rio Carnival 2014. Like the parties, many of these street parades are carefully planned and some can draw hundreds of thousands of revelers.
Street parties in Rio have been getting more and more popular over the years as they are a great place to meet new people and party with the locals. The better known and older Blocos such as Cordao do Bola Preta had gotten so large it had to be moved a few years ago to Copacabana Beach to accommodate all the people that wanted to join the party. It was moved again in 2009 to Rio Branco between Cinelandia and Praca Maua.
From Saturday to Tuesday during the Carnival week some of the largest bands parade down Rio Braco in downtown Rio. Expect to see some of the traditional Blocos including Cordao do Bola Preta, Bafo da Onca and Cacique de Ramos. Try to join in these parties in the late afternoon, as you will probably get to see some of the most unusual characters then.
Most of the bands that play at these street parties are all volunteers who rehearse year long for Rio Carnival. Many sell T-shirts and tickets to their rehearsals and hold competitions to raise money to cover the expenses. Sometimes, when a Bloco or Banda is too popular they will change their schedule without officially announcing the alteration. This helps prevent overcrowding. Some of the larger groups that actually do this on a regular basis are Suvaco de Cristo, Simpatia e Quase Amor and Volta Alice in Laranjeiras. This drops the crowds from tens of thousands to a thousand or so and makes the parties more intimate and more fun.
Street parties are not restricted to the week of Rio Carnival. The parties can happen both before and after the traditional festival. Banda de Ipanema holds their first street party well before Rio Carnival begins. Banda de Ipanema was actually formed in 1965 and officially declared part of the cultural heritage of the city in 2004. Banda de Ipanema holds three street parties. Their first is the Saturday two weeks before the beginning of the Carnival. The other two are held on Saturday and Tuesday during the Carnival week.
The Banda first gathers at Praca General Osorio and then marches down Av. Vieira Souto to Rua Visconde de Piraja and back to Praca General Osorio. Most of the Banda members begin to gather around 4 pm and they start playing their anthem Cidade Maravilhosa at 6pm. The Banda also plays classic Carnival songs including old Carmen Miranda tunes.
As the Banda maneuvers down the route police divert the traffic and the beer and hot dog vendors shout out their wares. The most popular characters in the parade are the drag queens in their elaborate and often comical costumes. The public is more than welcome to join in the fun, as there are no barricades keeping them out. The public is also welcome to dress up or dress down or not dress at all. Just about anything goes at these street parties.
Some of the other popular Bandas and Blocos include Banda da Sa Ferreira, Banda da Santa Clara, and Bloco Suvaco de Cristo. These groups hold their own street parties and parades and also attract tens of thousands of the locals and tourists.