Think of Carnival and only one comes to mind. Rio.The carnival of Rio de Janeiro is considered to be the biggest dance floor on the earth and attracts thousands of visitors from across the world. A typical parade here will constitute of revellers, beautiful faces and their dance costumes, samba dancers dressed in their finest refinery and feathers, elaborately decorated vehicles and blaring loud music through their speakers. Along the route that the carnival takes, it is joined by many more people, of all age groups. What’s more is you don’t need an entry pass to gate crash this party!!!
One of the main reasons to hold the festival is for the numerous samba dance academies to compete with each other and put their best foot forward, quite literally! Each samba school comes out with its own theme, which they portray in the festival through their thematically designed wheels, costumes, lyrics, musical beats and even their dance moves. This competition between the many samba schools is the climax of this huge event on earth.
The carnival of Rio is over two centuries old and it has its roots in both the pagan and the religious festivals. The Carnival of Rio de Janeiro is organized every year, four days prior to the start of Lent and is considered to be the biggest carnival in the world. The Carnival is celebrated in many parts of the world but it is the carnival of Rio that rules the roost. Is it any wonder then that Rio de Janeiro is known as the Carnival capital of the world?
The Carnival, as we see it today, had its origin in the efforts to make the celebrations and festivities more systematic and organized, something along the lines of the parades in European nations which were far more civilized. Riding along in their open chariots, the elite and well-heeled class of the community came out with their masks and beautiful costumes and paraded them through the city streets for all to see. The carnival which usually starts after the sun has set over the horizon, continues on throughout the night and right till the wee hours or early morning. Revellers are known to dance all night long. The carnival overflows with people, food and drinks. More and more people keep joining the parade and sing, dance and make merry to their heart’s content.
This year the Carnival’s being held from the 28th of February to the 4th of March. So while you are reading this and hoping to be a part of the party someday, there are tens of thousands of people who have already let their hair down. The festival is also a ray of hope to revive the down and out economy of the land which has, in recent times, seen financial downfall and political uncertainty and unrest. Millions of people have booked the dates for the carnival and are headed to this place from all corners of the world. It’s not just the outsiders. Even the Brazilians take time off from their schedules and keep aside everything else to be a part of this great spectacle. The country practically stops in its path. Every sector sees absenteeism except the tourism industry which thrives and makes the most of this time. Hotels are booked and over-booked, bars are teeming with people, cabs are running full and samba schools are working till the last minute to come out with the best costumes. People of Rio call it ‘the greatest show on earth’. And rightly so!
Accommodation is available easily, thanks to the many options of lodging. They range from the five star hotels like J.W.Marriott, to the local ones like Hotel Sao Francisco, Hotel Granada and many more. Rio has an airport to call its own and there are many flights to and fro from all the major cities and urban centres across the globe.
Don’t forget to try out the local cuisine of Rio which is intense and contains a mixture of spices, brought down by the Portuguese invaders and the African slaves. There are many restaurants in Rio catering to the various taste buds and also, to all pockets. If you don’t mind shelling out huge sums of money and are a gastronomer, you will definitely enjoy the Porcao, for the yummilicious grilled meat it offers. However if you prefer a less elaborate and expensive place then the Carretao will work just fine for you. It offers a typical Brazilian menu which is loaded with all the different specialities of this South American nation and is prepared with carefully picked ingredients. The food contains of meat of different varieties and also fish, which is cooked in olive oil. Beverages available are tropical fruit juices and coconut water apart from the usual wine and beer. The weather is mostly hot and humid since Rio is close to coast, so pack in beach wear, glares, sunscreen and the likes.
The currency of Brazil is Real, which is roughly around 2.33 USD. So make sure you have enough cash on hand to enjoy and soak in the fun this vibrant land has to offer you.