Carnival in Brazil - The Biggest Party on the Planet!

Carnival in Brazil is the biggest party in the World. If you want to be a part of one of the most celebrated events on Earth, with the sun shining, beer flowing and beautiful women dressing up in great costumes then you're in the right place.

Carnival in Brazil is an experience of a lifetime. If Carlsberg made festivals......... (Joke for the Brits reading this). It is incredible!

1, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This travel blog photo's source is TravelPod page: Beautiful Rio


I had the pleasure of being in Rio for carnival in 2009. I remember the build up to the first day. It was electric. The city gradually turns into party mode. There are people everywhere, tourists and locals, who gather in the street and enjoy this spectacular event.

So why do they celebrate carnival?

Carnival in Brazil is held every year and begins 46 days before Easter. It is celebrated as on certain days in lent, Christians would not eat meat and poultry. The word itself comes from the word carnelevare, which means to remove meat..... And so the term carnival came about.

Modern carnival is based around the masquerade parties in Paris and began in Rio de Janeiro. Groups of people paraded through the city playing music, wearing costumes and dancing. These turned into 'blocos' or block parties.

Street party during carinval, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This travel blog photo's source is TravelPod page: Beautiful Rio

We enjoyed a night out at a bloco during carnival. It was great fun.... people were dancing, drinking, eating and having a great time. Music was booming and the atmosphere was fantastic.

Samba Schools and the Sambadromo

Where do the Samba Schools Come from?

Brazil has loads of Samba Schools! There over 100 in Rio alone. Only 12 can make it to the 'finals' though, to parade what they have been working on all year. The schools are named after their communities and some become recognised for their quality so getting in to them can be tough. They are the schools that are expected to be in the top 12 every year. It is great to know that the most popular samba schools come from the favela so the parade is not limited to just the rich people of the city. One of the best aspects of the samba schools is that they help out local communities. In fact, each samba school supports a cause, with education and rehabilitation being the main areas for them to concentrate on. So as you probably imagined, not only are the samba schools the backbone of carnival in Brazil, but they are also a major source of income for people whose jobs focus on the event.

The Samba Parade

2, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This travel blog photo's source is TravelPod page: Beautiful Rio
Carnival in Brazil brings us the Samba Parade and it is an experience that you are very unlikely to forget in a hurry. It is one of the main events of the biggest party on Earth! This is probably the most famous part of carnival, where the samba schools compete with their dancing, music and performance and I am sure you have seen photos of the schools parading down the Sambadromo, which is like a big alleyway with a surrounding stadium. Dancers line the alleyway, with the floats in the centre. On top of these floats beautiful women are often dressed in incredibly sexy costumes (sometimes just covered in body paint sporting a huge smile!)

The samba schools prepare for around ¾ of the year for this event and it is judged by 40 different judges covering 10 distinct areas. The winner always finds out on Ash Wednesday once all the votes have been counted.

This event really brings Carnival in Brazil to life. The buzz that breezes through the city behind these floats is amazing and the parties and party people who follow their samba school on the days leading up to the event really do have a great time.

costumes of carnival, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This travel blog photo's source is TravelPod page: Beautiful Rio
I was fortunate enough to be in Rio for Carnival and one evening leading up to the festival was relaxing in the apartment before heading out for the night. We suddenly heard a lot of commotion but could not see anything for miles, so we made our way to Copacobana to join in with the people who were just hanging around waiting to find out what was going on.

The vibe became gradually more and more exciting and suddenly from out of nowhere a float appeared with people riding it dressed in some incredibly colourful and capturing costumes. The music coming out of the float was deafening and there was thousands of people following it, walking on the boulevard next to the beach.

We obviously joined in and had a great time! We must have walked for about 2 or 3 miles with the float, which gathered people as we moved on. The fantastic thing was how friendly the people were! Everyone just seemed so happy to be a part of the event and there were beers being handed out and people encouraging everyone to dance and have a good time.

Hotels and Hostels in Brazil for Carnival

Hotels during Carnival are very hard to find if you leave it too late. Carnival in Brazil is the biggest party on Earth so you can imagine the amount of people that are going to want to find something for that period.

view from hotel in parati
View from my hotel in Rio during Carnival

if you are planning on heading to one of the top destinations like Rio then you will have to book well in advance. There is also a minimum amount of nights you can rent a room for and this is often 4 or 5 nights.

We were lucky as we managed to get a hotel room set just back off Copacabana for the duration of Carnival in Brazil. We booked it about 4 months in advance and there was not a lot of choice left. But it was decent and close to the action. The hostels at this time of the year have the same problem. This is peak time and a lot of people travelling, just like we did, plan their trips around the event so get in there early. We actually looked for a hostel rather than a hotel as it would have been more sociable. But in the end we just went over to the lively hostel around the corner every night and wandered back to our beds in the hotel when the parties were over (once morning had arrived!) So this might even say that hostels book up faster than hotels in Rio, and I would imagine this is similar throughout Brazil. Carnival in Brazil is a must do!!