Image below: Carnival in Brazil, Book cover
Carnival in Brazil isn't strictly limited to official dates and locations. You can still enjoy the Carnival, even if you can't be present in the Carnival Sambodrome of Rio or in the street circuits of Salvador, at the official dates of festivities. In the Carnival days, the weeks and months before it or even in the days following it, you have good alternatives. Namely:
The Carnival schools rehearsals in Rio de Janeiro take place at weekends from August to February. You should confirm times, days and places through your hotel services or phone the school. Most rehearsals are public, there are many tourists at present and you just have to pay a cheap entrance ticket. Inform yourself at your hotel.
Here are some addresses to some of the most important Rio's Carnival schools:
- Beija-Flor, Street Pracinha Pais Leme 1652, Nilopolis; Tel.: 21 22 53 28 60
- Salgueiro: Street Silva Teles 74, Tijuca, Tel.: 21 22 38 55 64
- Mocidade Ind. Padre Miguel, Street Cel. Tamarindo 38, Padre Miguel; Tel.: 21 33 32 58 23
- Mangueira, Street Visconde de Niteroi, 1072, Mangueira; Tel.: 21 25 67 46 37
- Portela, Street Clara Nunes 04, Madureira; Tel.: 21 33 90 04 71
Another alternative to the Carnival parades in the hot official days (and the unofficial ones) is a good club or hotel Carnival ball. At Rio de Janeiro, clubs such as Flamengo, Scala, Monte Libano, Sirio-Libanes or Fluminense are famous for their Carnival and pre-Carnival balls. Your hotel may inform you about those options. Some hotels like the Copacabana Palace Hotel have their own very accredited Carnival Balls.
In these cases, you don't have to book the entrances well in advance and ticket prices are very affordable: something around $20 to $50.
Though you don't have to use costumes, it's advisable to put on something according to the local mood in most places. However, since a Carnival ball is mainly a live music event, Bermuda shorts, Hawaiian shirts, and alike are fine. Comfortable shoes are essential.
In Salvador da Bahia, Carnival is a street event. Even the main parades are long street circuits.
Out of official Carnival period, from December onwards, you can observe public rehearsals all over the city. Many of them are established and are well known:
- Group Cultural Oludum: Pelourinho street, Sunday nights; or theatre Miguel Santana, at street Gregorio de Matos, Tuesday nights.
- Group Ara Ketu: Chile Street, Friday nights.
- Group Ile Aiye, near Saint Antonio Fort, Saturday nights.
There are many spontaneous Carnival street manifestations in Rio de Janeiro. Every neighbourhood in Rio has its own street Carnival manifestation. One of the most notable is done by the Escola do Carlinhos de Jesus, at Botafogo and Copacabana main streets, ending near the Copacabana Palace hotel. Though less spontaneous, and more tourist oriented than other street Carnival events, this parade has extreme animation and wants your direct participation.