Carnival 2019 is just around the corner and you are probably wondering how to even get started! To help ensure you have a wonderful time in the Marvelous City, we have listed valuable tips to take the weight off your shoulder as you get ready to plan your trip to the most popular party in the world.

*Dates for Carnival in 2019 are from March 1 to March 5, 2019.

How many nights should I spend in Rio de Janeiro?

For most, the ideal amount of time to experience Carnival in Rio de Janeiro would be 4 nights, which will give you just enough time to attend the Sambadrome parade, a Carnival Ball, as well as various block parties that are open to the public. During the day, definitely make a visit to Christ the Redeemer and Sugar Loaf Mountain, where you will be mesmerized by the breathtaking panoramic views of Rio’s topography. If you have more days to explore, definitely plan for a few nights in the nearby beach town of Buzios, famous for good-looking crowds, hip bars and restaurants and world-class beaches. Feeling in need to detox all that partying for those that are nature lovers? Explore the Amazon Rainforest or the Pantanal region to discover Brazil’s wildlife paradise.

Should I attend the Sambadrome Parade? What is the Parade all about?

The Sambadrome Parade will take off on March 3 and March 4 of 2019, so make sure you don’t miss one of these nights to attend the heart of Rio’s Carnival! There are as many as 30,000 annual participants and 90,000 ticketed spectators; it is, without a doubt, a lifetime experience to witness the spectacles of handmade extravagant costumes, the lavishly decorated floats and the choreographed dances with beats and rhythms pulsating from every direction.  

The 14 best performing samba schools parade on Sunday, March 3, and Monday, March 4 in this fierce competition and dance until the sun arises.  Each samba school that you see represents a neighborhood or social club from different areas across Rio, narrating their theme and story by dancing to their music. Each school parades through with thousands of sambistas (participants in the parade) divided into sections of dancers, musicians and floats. The schools prepares for an entire year and by December, full rehearsals have begun and the samba music is recorded and released to record shops.  Each samba parade must last between 65 to 75 minutes and their performance is evaluated by a judge. Here are the main criteria used when judging the schools:

Bateria:  The Bateria, or percussion section, is the backbone of the music as it provides rhythm to the song and dance. The enredo is the story or lyrics, and samba enredo is the music itself. Each samba school has between 250 and 350 percussionists. During the parade the school´s song is sung around 77 times.

Harmonia:  Refers to how well the Bateria and the ‘passistas’ (samba dancers) are well synchronized.

Evolução:  Refers to the quality of the dance and its level of originality and skill.

Carros Alegóricos:  These are the gigantic and richly decorated floats which always carry the “figures de destaque”, which are well known celebrities, who are invited to parade and wear the schools costumes.  There can´t be more than 8 figures per samba school.

Porta Bandeira:  The School´s flag bearer and the dance master. The woman carries the flag while her escort shows off his dance skills; this couple is potentially a big-point scorer.

Comissão de Frente:  Traditionally a school´s board of directors marches at the head of the parade alongside the invited celebrity. The “comissão de frente” usually brings a group of 10 people to show the samba school’s theme through their costumes and enticing choreography.

Ala das Baianas:  Traditionally every school has one of these in its parade. It is usually in the middle or at the end, and includes hundreds of elderly ladies dressed in the flowing costumes typical of the state of Bahia. The costumes are designed to honor the memory of the former slaves of Bahia who were the first to introduce the traditions of Carnival to Rio. These ladies spend at least 6 months of the year creating these magnificent costumes for the samba schools.

Which Tickets should I Purchase?

There are three types of tickets and each one of them will give you a different perspective and experience, as well as a different price point! We strongly recommend buying tickets from a reliable and trustworthy source as there is a vast black market operating these ticket sales.  

  • Camarotes: These are the luxury “Skyboxes” of the Sambodromo. Think bottle service, delicious food and of course the best and most comfortable seats in the house. Most are by invitation only and the ones that are for purchase are really expensive, but this is by far the ultimate VIP Carnival experience. Get ready to rub shoulders all night with beautiful Brazilian celebrities, along with ones from your own country too! Madonna, Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez and Fergie are just a few of the superstars to have been seen there in recent years.

  • Frisas: If you’re not a celeb yet but willing to make a more modest splurge for comfort and viewing, frisas might be for you. These are the front box seats and are great for groups of 6 as they seat all 6 tickets together. They are located at street level and offer a great view of the parade.

  • Grandstand: These are the bleacher seats (Arquibancandas), not individual seats, and are the most reasonably priced.  The seats shouldn’t be disregarded however, as their elevated position provides a great view of the samba parade. These tickets are not numbered, except for the VIP bleachers in Sector 9 which are more expensive, but a great option for small groups that would like to secure a section together.

Getting an itch to participate in the parade yourself? What better way to feel the beats and energy of this festival by dancing your own way down the parade like a Native. Become an honored guest at on one of Rio’s fabled “Samba Schools” and you will be tailored into your very own costume. Ask one of the agents at Craft Travel Group about this unique experience!

Map of Rio de Janeiro’s Sambodrome, or  Sambodromo,  the one-kilometer long runway where the magic of the Carnival parades happen

Map of Rio de Janeiro’s Sambodrome, or Sambodromo, the one-kilometer long runway where the magic of the Carnival parades happen

What about the street parades?

What better way to enjoy Carnival than by attending hundreds of free parties across the entire city? Be ready to witness thousands of people and cariocas dancing to the beat of music along the streets of Rio! Each neighborhood in Rio has its favorite Bandas (pronounced ban-dush with a heavy “carioca” accent) or Blocos (pronounced blo-cush) and these lively parties are centered around an orchestra which march along a pre-determined route and are followed by hordes of enthusiastic samba dancers dressed in elaborate costumes, bathing suits or just plain clothes. The way a Bloco or Banda works is simple: first people gather at a well-known spot, such as a square or neighborhood bar, and then after a couple of hours the band starts marching its way down the streets. While street carnival can be found all over the city, it isn’t always easy knowing what is happening at what time and where. But don’t worry, we will share with you our very own ‘cheat sheet’ of the best Bandas and Blocos that cannot be missed, especially the Banda de Ipanema, which is a must!


Friday, March 1, 2019:

Carmelitas (Santa Teresa) 
Friday - 03:30 pm 
Concentration point (03:00 pm): corner of Rua Dias de Barros and Santa Teresa Slope 

Azeitona sem Caroço (Leblon) 
Friday - 08:00 pm 
Concentration point (7:30 pm): Rua Dias Ferreira, 605

Saturday, March 2, 2019:

Cordão do Bola Preta (Downtown) 
Saturday - 09:00 am 
Concentration point (8:00 am):  Av. 1 De Março Corner of Rua do Rosario

Bloco do Barbas (Botafogo)
Saturday – 03:30 pm
Concentration point (3:00 pm): corner Rua Arnaldo Quintela and Rua Assis Bueno

Banda Sa Ferreira (Copacabana)
Saturday – 04:30 pm
Concentration point (4:00 pm): corner Av Atlantica and Rua Sa Ferreira

Banda de Ipanema (Ipanema) 
Saturday – 05:00 pm
Concentration point (4:00 pm): Praça General Osorio (near Teixeira de Melo St

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Cordão do Boi Tatá (Downtown) 
Sunday - 10:00am 
Concentration point (9:00 am): Praça XV 

Bangalafumenga (Gloria – Aterro do Flamengo)
Sunday – 10:30 am
Concentration point (10:00 am): between MAM ( Museum of Modern Art) and Marina da Gloria 

Simpatia é quase Amor (Ipanema) 
Sunday - 3:00 pm 
Concentration point (2:-00 pm): General Osorio Square (near Rua Teixeira de Melo) 

Suvaco do Cristo (Jardim Botânico) 
Sunday before carnival – 10:00 am or 3:00 pm (exact time is only available on the day of the party) 
Concentration point: (corner of Jardim Botânico St. with Faro St.)

 Monday, March 4, 2019

Sargento Pimenta (Gloria – Aterro do Flamengo)
Monday – 10:30 am
Concentration point (10:00 am): between MAM ( Museum of Modern Art) and Marina da Gloria 

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Carmelitas (Santa Teresa) 
Tuesday - 10:30 am 
Concentration point (10:00 am): corner of Rua Dias de Barros and Santa Teresa Slope 

Banda de Ipanema (Ipanema) 
Tuesday – 05:00 pm 
Concentration point (4:00 pm): Praça General Osorio (near Teixeira de Melo St

Bloco street party in Rio de Janeiro

Bloco street party in Rio de Janeiro

What is a Carnival Ball and which is the best event to attend?

If you are looking for an extravagant event, then no need to worry as Rio Carnival has you covered and will give you plentiful of options for one of these themed Gala Balls. The energy of Carnival continues in these private parties, hosting live music, flamboyant costumes and endless entertainment. Feel what being a carioca is all about by letting go and being yourself at one of these balls!

The very best Gala Ball to attend is The Magic Ball at Copacabana Palace, held on March 2 at 11PM, and is considered one of the most extravagant, and priciest, events of Carnival season in Rio, full of the masqueraded rich and famous. High fashion, five star service, a live band, sophisticated buffet and open bar are just a few of the many charms of this high-profile party. Guests have included celebrities such as Parish Hilton, Gerard Butler and Vincent Cassel. Be ready to spot some celebrities while here!

Want to go easy on the spending? Checkout the Scala club in downtown, which hosts a ball almost every night of Carnival week and don’t miss the Preto Ball on Friday night right before Carnival. Better yet, check out the wildest costumes at The Gala Gay ball, where being just yourself is all about the fun in the party.

Ready to book? Contact us at Craft Travel. We would be delighted to create an ideal and unforgettable Carnival experience for you.