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Published: January 19th 2008
Ten years ago the Rio carnival used to be just for the gringoes - the Tourists swamped the city, the parties were wild and the residents of Rio fled. They fled to their weekend houses, to families by the coast, to quieter cities or the sea. Then travel became so difficult during the carnival period that they became trapped in Rio too.
Then came the resurgence of the Bloco. A bloco is a street samba party, fuelled by Caipirinha, powered by the samba band, and bedazzled by the costumes of some of the more flamboyant members of the local gay community. A meeting point is established, a time and a place - some of the most popular blocos no longer publish this information - it's now for those in the know.
January the 19th and the first Bloco of the year is in Ipanema - 'Banda de Ipanema' - 20m from my apartment... I rush down with my camera and pretend to be a member of the press for an hour or two - people pose - smile - ask me questions that I can't answer. The party mood is infectious, the streets are cleared and the bloco starts
to move. The press and parties goers crowd the streets, the samba gets everyone moving, whistles and horns and drums and tubas and trombones.
Rio Carnival 2008
Let's start with the bad news...
If you haven't found somewhere to stay and booked already then you'll be lucky - I'd actually say that you will not find anywhere - and definitely not anywhere cheap. The good news is that the parties are all over Brazil in the carnival period, every town and city has something going on.
If you do find accommodation - it will be expensive - a hostel dorm bed will typically charge $500 US for the week and will not allow you to stay just for a few days - it's all of the carnival or nothing. Dates for the main carnival events
Saturday 2nd February until Tuesday 5th February - the Mardi Gras day - Ash Wednesday is the end date for the madness.
Most of the activity happens down-town - the parades, the samba schools from the favelas have been practising for the last six months.
Though - the resurgence of the blocos means that there will be
street parties all over Rio - and due to there unpublicised nature - some will be spontaneous. So here is a forum post that will detail events
and information as it becomes available - I hope to meet some other travellers during this carnival period 😊
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