Rio Carnival 2021: everything you need to know (2023)

Carnival in Rio: everything you need to know

From Sambodromo tickets to accommodation tips, we'll show you everything you need to know about Rio Carnival in Brazil.

Are you looking for something specific?Continue with these sections:

  • Carnival in Rio 2021
  • Beginning of Carnival in Rio
  • carioca carnival dates
  • Plan your trip to Rio Carnival
  • Stay in Rio de Janeiro
  • Sambadrome-Tickets
  • What to see at the Sambadrome
  • Carnival Balls in Rio
  • Partying in the streets of Rio

Carnival in Rio 2021

If you like to party, then Carnival 2021 in Rio, which takes place from February 12th to 17th, is your chance to lose yourself in the party atmosphere of Rio de Janeiro.

Widely considered the biggest party in the world: a mix of the most electrifying, exhilarating and incredible performances you'll ever see. And you have so many options - you can party in the streets or dress glamorously for fancy carnival balls - the choice is yours. This event attracts revelers and travel enthusiasts from all over the world, so start planning your Rio Carnival outing now.

Rio Carnival is a street festival organized with extravagant costumes and a non-stop party. In fact, there are over 400 parties to attend during Rio Carnival 2021 - that's a lot of partying!

Rio Carnival is at the top of people's bucket lists around the world, so you need to hurry. Book your accommodation and flights as early as possible to avoid disappointment, and remember that the festival is all about the party atmosphere, so bring your best moves.

Beginning of Carnival in Rio

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is the carnival capital of the world. Rei Momo reigns over the biggest party in the world and has the duty of officially declaring the beginning of the Carioca Carnival.

In an almost century-old tradition, the arrival of the king and the ceremonial "handing over of the keys" mark the beginning of the festivities. At his command, Rio de Janeiro descends into night in luxurious attire and hedonistic exuberance.

Rio Carnival 2021: everything you need to know (1)

Rio Carnival is unlike anything else in the world and the whole city is excited. Traffic on the roads stops (not that you're going anywhere, even if you don't) and the city gives way to giant floats and performances by samba schools.

carioca carnival dates

Are you planning a trip to Brazil and want to know the dates of the Rio Carnival? The party lasts 5 days and always starts on Friday and ends on Ash Wednesday – 40 days before Easter.

Carnival in Rio 2021
February 12th to 17th, 2021

Carnival in Rio 2022
February 15th to February 20th, 2022

Die Samba-Parade

The parade always starts at 9 pm and goes until around 4 am. The party continues well after sunrise - thatANDAfter all, Brazil.

Plan your trip to Rio Carnival

The party is extremely popular and the Sambódromo fills up early, especially on weekends. It is highly recommended that you plan at least 6 months in advance, as foreign visitors alone number over half a million. In total, more than 5 million people celebrate Carnival in Rio, with 2 million people taking to the streets every day.

When planning your trip, you should know that in the weeks leading up to the parade, the whole city gets an incredible vibe as everyone prepares for Carnival. If you have time, we recommend arriving at least a few days early to experience this.

Almost all hotels also require a multi-night stay (some even have a 5-night minimum during Carnival), so plan accordingly.

Remember that in Rio there are no boring nights, so no matter what year and how long you travel, it's an experience like no other in the world.

Rio Carnival 2021: everything you need to know (2)

stay in Rio

You need to think carefully about where to stay during the Rio Carnival. There are three basic accommodation options in Rio: hotels, inns or apartments. These are available in all parts of the city and offer options for all levels of luxury and budget.

The different areas of Rio de Janeiro

The South Zone (Zona Sui) is the most popular area to stay during the Rio Carnival. The South Zone is made up of sidewalk neighborhoods scattered along the Atlantic coast. The West Zone neighborhood is great for families as it hosts most of the 2016 Olympics events and this area is being rebuilt in preparation. In addition, from here you will find the center of Rio in a central location and can be easily reached by Rio subway or a taxi.

hotels in Rio

The offer of hotels in Rio is huge. Before booking, remember that most hotels have a mandatory check-in date and a minimum stay of four to five nights during Carnival.

Luxury hotels can get very expensive during Carnaval (5 to 10 times the regular price), but that doesn't exclude budget travelers. Most of the time, your hotel room is just a place to shower and sleep, and you probably won't be spending much time there during Mardi Gras. Once you've sorted out the cost factor, there are other important considerations to make when choosing a hotel to choose one that is clean, comfortable, and in a convenient location so that it can act as your home base.

Accommodation in Rio

For those who enjoy Carnival on a budget, hostels are the ideal accommodation. Hostels can be found all over Rio and offer an affordable alternative to hotels and apartments. Hostels offer socially cohesive accommodation, where travelers can rent beds (which often take the form of bunk beds in dorms) and share a bathroom, with the main area containing a common room and kitchen.

In addition to bunk beds, many hostels also offer private rooms. If you plan to stay in a hostel, you will save money and you can have a great social experience as you can meet and mingle with many different people from different nationalities and cultures.

Apartments in Rio

Over the years, apartment rentals have become a popular accommodation option for travelers to Rio. Renting an apartment is like renting a “home away from home” that offers spacious and comfortable living. Apartments can be found in all of Rio's neighborhoods and range from one bedroom to five bedrooms. Also, they often offer cleaning services.


Sambodromo tickets sell out quickly and can be extremely difficult to get if you wait too long.

We highly recommend ordering these as soon as they are available, as some options sell out a year in advance.

A list of Sambodromo ticket options is below.

Remember that you don't need tickets for Carnival in Rio, but you do need them to watch the parade at the Sambodromo - there are hundreds of other parties all over Rio, mainly in Copacabana and on Ipanema beach.

The Sambódromo consists of several sections and ticket prices vary for each one.

This is the home of Rio's Carnival, and the parade here is considered "the greatest show on earth".

Buy Sambadrome tickets

When picking up your Sambódromo parade cards, they will be delivered in a plastic bag containing 1 card attached to a string, with a small portion to be picked up at the entrance. If the second part of your ticket comes loose and is lost, you will not be admitted to the Sambadrome.

So leave your ticket in the plastic bag until you reach the gate. After passing through the gates, the lanyard must be used at all times to access your sector (section). You are free to enter and leave your sector, but re-entry is not allowed after exiting the Sambadrome gates.

seats and types of seats

  • grandstand– No assigned seats, these are accessible and you can sit high up for a great view of the entire parade
  • open front boxes– They have assigned seats directly in front of the grandstand
  • private chairs- At the end of the Sambódromo they have marked places
  • Large covered boxes– Covered boxes ideal for storms
  • Luxus Lounge Folia Suite– Accommodates around 1,000 people and has dance floors with DJs
  • Luxury Suites– the best and the most expensive.
Rio Carnival 2021: everything you need to know (3)

Visit to the Sambadrome

If you're looking for an epic extravaganza, don't miss the extraordinarily glamorous parades of the samba schools. They take place every night, from Friday to Monday, and last from 9 pm until dawn the next day. Samba schools definitely know how to put on a show and you won't be disappointed.

They are the biggest attraction at the Rio Carnival, and many would say the detailed and extravagant floats are worth a look. In fact, they are part of Brazilian culture and participants spend months, even the entire year, planning for the event.

What you'll notice is that the sambas aren't performed just to please you; They compete with all schools for their approval and support. Members involved in the dance often number in the thousands aboard dozens of impressive floats and hundreds of drummers.

The parade itself will have around 30,000 participants each night, performing to an audience of around 90,000. When choosing your ticket to the Sambódromo, find the best seats on the terrace in the Chairs and Grandstands, and in the cabins of the Camarotes.

Carnival Balls in Rio

The appeal of the Rio Carnival is that you can see and do almost anything for just a few cents a day. Tickets for the carnival dances are a must.

While a costume isn't mandatory (there are some expectations, though), you might feel pretty out of place if you don't wear a sequined dress or feather-light outfit. Remember that standards are high in the carnival capital.

A costume ball at Rio Carnival is sometimes not what you would expect. Instead of elevated manners, courtesies and classical music, Latin rhythms provide the soundtrack to the frenetic samba routines that dominate the dance floor.

Most people will be partying in the streets during the 2021 Rio Carnival; However, the elite will gather for the annual Magic Ball at the Copacabana Palace Hotel. Tickets for this event can be pricey, but they still sell out quickly. Therefore, if you are interested in attending this sophisticated event, please book your tickets in advance.

There are also six different balls held at the Scala Rio nightclub, the most popular being the latest Scala party – the Scala Gay Ball, known for its wild and wacky costumes.

Partying in the streets of Rio

But the heart of the party will be in the streets of Rio, and this is where you can party for free. Many blocks (small groups) organize their own street parties, some of the best known block parties being Monobloco, Almost Love, Press and Que Eu Gamo. No matter where you party in Rio, this is the party of a lifetime.

Rio Carnival 2021: everything you need to know (4)


What do I need to know about Rio Carnival? ›

The Carnival in Rio de Janeiro (Portuguese: Carnaval do Rio de Janeiro) is a festival held every year before Lent; it is considered the biggest carnival in the world, with two million people per day on the streets. The first Carnival festival in Rio occurred in 1723. Celebration prior to fasting season of Lent.

How do people prepare for Rio Carnival? ›

Preparations for Carnaval start as early as March, when the samba schools choose their theme, write the samba, and begin to design the costumes and floats. By July or August, weekly rehearsals get underway for the big night in February or early March.

What you need to know about Carnival Brazil? ›

Carna Rio de Janeiro, or Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, is an annual festival held in the days leading up to Lent. It's a time when people let loose, party hard, and celebrate life. The streets are filled with music, dancing, and revelry.

What do people do at the Rio Carnival? ›

The Rio de Janeiro Carnival takes place for 4 days, from Saturday to the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, a Catholic holiday. These celebrations invade every neighborhood with street parties, parades, dances, and free concerts. For 2022 this celebration is confirmed to take place between February 25 and March 1.

What are the best seats for Rio Carnival? ›

Sector 2, 4,6 and 8 Grandstands – Affordable seating with great views. Located direcly opposite Sectors 3, 5, 7 and 9, the Sectors 2, 4, 6 and 8 offer great views of the Samba Parade, with sector 6 being the best considered that's the area where most of the judges are seated.

What food is eaten at Rio Carnival? ›

Brazil famously hosts the world's biggest carnival party. Top foods include traditional Brazilian recipes such as feijoada (slow-cooked pork and beans with rice), moqueca baiana (a fragrant fish stew) or carurú (a dish similar to gumbo made with shrimp and toasted nuts).

How do people dress for Rio Carnival? ›

So is there a dress code for Rio Carnival? What you wear to the Rio Carnival actually isn't very important, the whole idea of Carnival is to feel free and enjoy dancing and making the most of the biggest party in the world. Wear what you want, how you want, take a costume or go in your normal clothes!

Is Carnival in Rio worth it? ›

Attending Carnival is one of the highlights of visiting Brazil! It's a unique and amazing experience you have to see to believe. Carnival is the country's largest annual celebration, where you get to party like there's no tomorrow while immersing yourself in an explosion of culture, music, and dance.

Why do people wear masks at Carnival in Brazil? ›

The African influence

People began to use costumes and tribal masks during the celebrations. Feathers were also used in many of the African costumes and this symbolized rebirth and the rise of the spirits which are also important components of the modern day Brazilian carnival.

What happens during a Brazilian carnival? ›

Brazilian Carnival is celebrated on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and the upcoming date falls on February 21. The carnival is marked by colorful costumes, samba music and dance, grand parades, and food festivals. It is the perfect opportunity to engage in overindulgence before starting the period of Lent.

What is special about Carnival of Rio de Janeiro? ›

The Carnival is celebrated five days preceding Ash Wednesday, which is the start of Lent in the Catholic calendar. At the heart of the Carnival is the samba, which is the perfect illustration of the Afro-European blend that defines Brazil culture.

What are Rio Carnival dancers called? ›

The Samba Dancers or “Passistas” are amongst the best dancers of the school and this group usually numbers no more than 20, as it is extremely difficult to do justice to the fast paced Samba while participating in a slow moving parade.

How expensive is Rio Carnival? ›

The prices range from USD30 to USD300 for parades, but these include some benefits depending on the type. These prices are based only on the Sambadrome event, so they do not include the plane ticket, the travel document's fees, and so on.

What happens at a Carnival? ›

Carnival typically involves public celebrations, including events such as parades, public street parties and other entertainments, combining some elements of a circus. Elaborate costumes and masks allow people to set aside their everyday individuality and experience a heightened sense of social unity.

What do you wear to a Rio Carnival ball? ›

Sensational Costumes for an Enchanting Evening

Although it is a Carnival party, the dress code for this Rio Mardi Gras ball is demanding. You cannot enter wearing flip-flops, shorts, jeans, and a tank top. Men are expected to be attired formally with a suit and black tie and women can wear a gala dress.

Is balcony or orchestra seats better? ›

Orchestra seats get you closest to the stage, but being in the mezzanine or balcony can give you a wider, fuller view of the stage from a little higher up, especially as compared to a section like the side orchestra, where you might be closer, but might not have a full view of one far side of the stage.

Is Carnival best time to visit Rio? ›


This is Rio's peak season. The city's most notable events — including Reveillon (New Year's Eve) and Carnival — take place during Brazil's summer, which lasts from December through March.

Is Carnival unlimited food? ›

Much of the food is included in your cruise fare, with the exception of the steakhouse, Cucina del Capitano, and chef's table that cost a little extra. You can eat as much as you want!

What is the most popular food in Rio? ›

FEIJOADA. And on the weekend, the request is the feijoada! This is one of the best known and popular typical dishes in state cuisine. The recipe for an A-M-A-Z-I-N-G feijoada is basically: black beans (although the city's citizens are carioca, beans are not, hahaha), various parts of pork and sausage.

What to bring to Rio Carnival? ›

Wear shorts, a shirt, a top, or just a summer dress. The people aren't as dressed up as in the streets. The parades are going for hours in the Sambódromo, so be sure to bring some snacks and plenty of water. It's still hot in the evening, so wear something light and airy and leave the layers and jackets at home.

What can you not wear in Rio? ›

We don't recommend jeans or long pants—you'll get uncomfortably hot. If you're going to the beach or just wandering through the streets, choose beach shorts and light t-shirts with sandals or flip flops. If you are going to a restaurant, choose more up-scale shorts with casual shoes and maybe a polo shirt.

Where to buy Carnival clothes in Rio? ›

But it is at Saara in Rio's centro, among hundreds of specialized shops, where you will find the most frenetic activity. The best addresses can be found on Rua Senhor dos Passos and Rua da Alfândega, so make sure you're ready to work up a sweat, after all it is summer.

How much money should I take to the Carnival? ›

How Much Cash Should You Bring On a Carnival Cruise? On a Carnival cruise, you should bring around $100 cash per person for each day in port and nothing for the sea days.

Is Carnival safe in Rio? ›

Remember that during the carnival, you will be safe at all times. Therefore, the answer to your question: Is Rio Carnival safe? is yes!

How much spending money will I need for a week in Rio? ›

You should plan to spend around R$423 ($81) per day on your vacation in Rio de Janeiro, which is the average daily price based on the expenses of other visitors. Past travelers have spent, on average, R$81 ($15) on meals for one day and R$33 ($6.24) on local transportation.

What are 3 benefits of carnival? ›

Social benefits - self-esteem; socialintegration; leadership skill development; physical health and healthy habits;education and learning; volunteerism and community spirit; dedication; spreadof the carnival work ethic.

Do carnival people make good money? ›

How much does a Carnival Worker make? Carnival workers make $27,198 per year on average, or $13.08 per hour, in the United States.

How many people can sleep in a room on a Carnival Cruise? ›

Adding friends equals multiplying the fun. That's why many Carnival staterooms can be configured in different ways — some sleep up to five! Keep the group together. Some cabins have connecting rooms with a common door between them.

Is the Carnival in Rio worth it? ›

Attending Carnival is one of the highlights of visiting Brazil! It's a unique and amazing experience you have to see to believe. Carnival is the country's largest annual celebration, where you get to party like there's no tomorrow while immersing yourself in an explosion of culture, music, and dance.

What do you wear to the Carnaval in Rio? ›

So is there a dress code for Rio Carnival? What you wear to the Rio Carnival actually isn't very important, the whole idea of Carnival is to feel free and enjoy dancing and making the most of the biggest party in the world. Wear what you want, how you want, take a costume or go in your normal clothes!

How long to stay in Rio for Carnival? ›

Stay for at least a week

4-5 days would normally be sufficient to take in the city of Rio. But during Carnaval, things are a little different.

Why do people go to Rio Carnival? ›

Aflamboyant feast of hedonism, Rio Carnival's samba-driven celebration is one of the world's greatest parties, where the city's streets come alive with intricate costumes, enormous floats, and Brazilian rhythms in preparation for Lent.

What are the negative effects of Rio Carnival? ›

Tourism and the hotel industry are among the sectors which most feel the impact. Last year alone, tourism lost 437,900 formal jobs, with a 12.5% reduction in the workforce when compared to 2019. The hosting segment accounted for 65,400 of these lost vacancies.

How strict is Carnival dress code? ›

Please no tracksuit trowsers, basketball shorts, flip-flops, bathing clothes or cut-off jeans. Gentlemen: elegant dress pants, shirts, sports jackets as well as suits, ties and tuxedos. Ladies: cocktail dresses, pantsuits, elegant skirts, blouses and evening gowns.


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