The Carnival is Rio de Janeiro's main event, held at the peak of the Brazilian summer. A million tourists join millions of Rio de Janeiro citizens in revelry over a 4-day celebration. It begins on a Saturday and ends on Fat Tuesday, the day before the beginning of the Christian period of Lent, Ash Wednesday.
The highlight of the carnival is the Sambodromo, or Samba Parade. The parade is broadcast in many countries and all Brazilian states. Many people call it "the greatest show on earth". The Sambodromo is a 700-meter long strip flanked by spectator stands and luxury boxes. The main attraction is the sounds and sights of the parading samba schools that continue till daybreak. Only the 14 best samba schools are selected to parade through the Sambodromo.
It can take over an hour for a single samba school to pass a given point along the parade route. Each samba school has an elaborately decorated float, often accompanied by sensuous females vibrating to the hypnotic music. The floats are accompanied by marching samba bands of up to 300 musicians surrounded by female dancers.
Those who don't make it to the Sambodromo, attend various street carnivals that are held all over the city. Banda de Ipanemais is one of the most traditional street carnivals. It was founded in 1964 and is now listed as part of the city's cultural heritage, attracting as many as fifteen thousand people.Rio also offers a choice of Carnival balls. The Masquerade balls are celebrity-attended affairs where merrymakers wear designer costumes and party into the wee hours.
The most famous ball is held at the Copacabana Palace Hotel. A typical Carnival Ball features live music. Bands take turns playing on stage, often accompanied by a guest vocalist.Many similarities are observed between Brazilian carnival traditions and African dance, music and costume history.
Africans used feathers on masks as a symbol of their ability as humans to rise above problems and grow spiritually. Feathers are often used in today's Brazil Carnival dance costumes.Most tourists plan their Brazillian vacation around the Carnival dates, as it is considered a very delightful and unforgettable experience.
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By: Marcus Peterson