Samba Parade’s Special Group

The Special Group parades Sunday and Monday, featuring the best of the best of all the Samba schools in Rio de Janeiro.

These are the expensive parades to watch and la cream the la cream of Rio de Janeiro carnival. The events are telecasted worldwide and are considered the high point of carnival not only in Brazil, but around the world. The performances are extravagant, with the rio carnival designers competing to out to each other. 

The 2019 Special Group

The participants for the 2019 special group Samba parade on the order of their appearance at the Rio Sambodromo. 

Special Group Parade - The parade of the parades.

March 3rd (Sunday)

21:15 Império Serrano
22:20 Viradouro
23:25 Grande Rio
00:30 Salgueiro
01:35 Beija-Flor
02:40 Imperatriz Leopoldinense
03:45 Unidos da Tijuca

March 4th (Monday)

21:15 São Clemente
22:20 Vila Isabel
23:25 Portela 
00:30 União da Ilha
01:35 Paraíso do Tuiuti 
02:40 Mangueira
03:45 Mocidade 

Warming up before the parade

The performers gather in an area known as Concentration or “Concentração”, just outside the Sambodromo. This serves as the warm up location and the atmosphere here is great, with participants stretching, getting into formation and practicing steps for one last time. At any given time two schools congregate in this area, waiting for their turn to be announced over the microphone.

LIESA Rankings

LIESA or the Independent League of Samba Schools of Rio de Janeiro organizes the annual parade at the Sambodromo. According to its regulations, the winner of the previous year’s Access Group opens the Special Group parade on Sunday, while the group with the second lowest points opens Monday’s Samba parade. As per the LIESA rankings which is based on a 5 year period, at the end of the 2018 carnival, the top 3 schools were Beija Flor, Unidos da Tijuca,  Acadêmicos do Salgueiro.

LIESA Regulations

LIESA has a number of strict regulations that the Samba schools must keep in mind when preparing for their parade. For example, besides the 10 categories in which they will be judged, each group must parade for a minimum of 65 minutes and must not exceed a maximum of 75 minutes. For every minute not used or over exceeded the Samba school loses one-tenth of a point.

Rules also exist regarding the number of participants in each discipline. A minimum of 10 and maximum of 15 performers can make up the Front Commission, while school must have at least 200 percussionist drummers. Failure to comply with these regulations will cost the school half a point. These and several other guidelines are laid out in the official Carnival Regulation book that is brought out every year.

Special Group parade tickets

You can opt for either assigned seats or unmarked ones at the Sambodromo. The unmarked seats in the Grandstand are the most economical. The benefit with assigned seats is that you can leave the venue and return as you like, without worrying about someone claiming your seat. “Allocated Chairs” are the most affordable of the assigned seats and offer a front row view of the parade in Sectors 12 and 13.

If you are going in a group, a Front Box or ‘frisa’ might be a good option. These are boxes containing 6 chairs and a coffee table (but you don’t have to buy the entire box). There are 4 rows marked A to D, with A and B closest to the runway. To watch the show in ultimate luxury, opt for the Luxury Suite, where you will be waited on hand and foot.

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