Much of what Brazil has for its world-famous carnival take its origin in Rio de Janeiro; when the city’s members of the upper class society imported Paris’ practice of holding masquerade parties and balls in 1641. The events used to be just a copy of the European’s festivities then later absorbed some elements from the cultures of the Native American and the Africans.
When the cordões (cords) were introduced in the city during the late 19th century, performances on instruments was also brought in Rio. Today, these groups are more known as the blocos (blocks) which mainly consist of people wearing costumes or t-shirts with themes and/or logos. Blocos are usually associated with particular Rio de Janeiro neighborhoods and generally include an entourage of revelers and music group.
The main feature of the city’s carnival is its block parade. From a short number of blocks in early years, these blocks have increased to more than 100 – and grow each year! A bloco is formed with a group of revelers (big or small). They must have a distinct title or name, which are often a funny pun. Some blocos can name their group from their neighborhood and even their social status. Prior to the show, these groups gather in a particular square, and then parade in sections throughout the city. There are blocos though who choose not to leave one street to attract more viewers. Block parades in Rio de Janeiro start in January and can last even after the carnival.
Block parades occur in almost all neighborhoods in Rio, but the most famous are those In Ipanema, Copacabana, Lagoa, Leblon, and Jardim Botanico. There are also a number of famous blocks in downtown Rio. Parade organizers are generally in charge of their group’s music. Most of them compose their own music theme that adds up to the singing and performance of their group.
Samba schools in Rio de Janeiro all go out on the streets during carnival events in the city. In fact, these schools make up a large number of performers as they are often financed by large and respected organizations in the city. These samba schools all perform in the Sambadrome, of which the performance runs for four nights. Aside from the fun, these schools also compete in an official competition.
Rio de Janeiro carnival is one of the most interesting and exciting experience in the city. This is also the time where visiting it is most expensive as hotel rooms and other accommodations go up to 4 times its regular rate. However, it is possible to find an affordable hotel in Rio de Janeiro if you plan your trip in advance.