Plan Ahead For The Rio de Janeiro Carnival

One of the most famous carnivals in the world is held annually in the Brazilian coastal city of Rio de Janeiro. It is marketed to tourists as “The Greatest Show on Earth” and it is certainly a spectacular sight as the streets come alive with samba dancers, outrageously colored costumes and music until the early hours of the morning.

Carnival this year is the first weekend in March, and for 2012 in mid-February. Over half a million visitors descend on Rio during Carnival weekend, so there are plenty of facilities for tourists. There are, however, a few things to be aware of before you start booking your tickets.

Tickets for the main parade event can either be bought alone, or as part of a package deal including flights and accommodation. If it’s your first trip to Rio, the packages are a good option as you have the security of being in a group and a representative on hand to help with any questions and to give advice. Tickets for the carnival procession cost from $80 in the grandstand to $1500 for a private box with VIP service. Different types of parades happen on different days, so do a bit of homework before booking to ensure that you are seeing the parade which suits you best. Tickets also sell out fast, so be sure you are buying from a reputable outlet and not a ticket tout.

If you really want to get into the spirit of Carnival, some tour operators offer you the chance to get right to the heart of it and parade through the streets as part of one of the Samba Schools. This is not a cheap option at $300 – $3000 for the costume, but it offers a once in a lifetime experience. If you have missed out on getting a ticket or a costume, it’s often possible to go along to the samba schools during rehearsals and watch. Full details are available online, and with over 70 samba schools to choose from you’re almost certain to find times which suit.

Although the Carnival is a safe place to be for tourists, it’s best to take sensible precautions like leaving fancy jewelry in the hotel, and not carrying large amounts of cash, expensive cell phones, cameras or passport with you. Leave it all locked in the safe at the hotel and just concentrate on having fun.


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