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Latin America - Rio Carnival

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1 September 2008 by Pete Mathers

Dates for your diary - Rio Carnival

February/March Carnival celebrations take place throughout Brazil, but Rio remains hands down the carnival capital of the world. Five hundred thousand visitors arrive each year for a five day celebration of colour and culture, ending on Shrove Tuesday.

Key to Carnival are the Brazilian bandas – street parties guided by drummers and singers and tailed by whoever wants to dance behind them. Then there are the Carnival Balls – glitzy, glamorous, outlandish in every way. But the climax by far is the samba parade through the purpose-built Sambadrome. Flanked by thousands of onlookers, the 14 best samba schools in Rio come to show what they’re made of over two consecutive nights.

Schools have as many as 5,000 members each, and performances last between 60 and 80 minutes. The baterias – each made up of 200–400 drummers – set the beat, while a solo vocalist repeats a catchy samba de enredo. Spectacular floats depict a chosen theme, and wave upon wave of colour and costume, flesh and feathers parade before the judges. Sambadrome tickets sell out quicker than a Cup Final. Don’t miss your chance to attend the world’s biggest party.

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