Rio de Janeiro Mardi Gras

When a modest get-together just won't do!

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Ronnie McCluskey

Ronnie McCluskey
HomeAway travel expert

Rio's eventful Mardi GrasIf attending a Mardi Gras, you want to enter the party having left your reservations at home - and Rio is a city that knows how to blast all hesitancy into the ether! Held annually before Lent, the Brazilian capital’s Mardi Gras is a colourful and quite bonkers affair. A heady assemblage of singing, dancing, floats and music, the carnival spans four days, with no fewer than half a million tourists getting in on the act! The 2014 festivities begin on Friday, February 8, culminating with the Banda de Ipanema’s march on Tuesday afternoon, and the gay costume ball in Rio Scala in the evening.

The Rio de Janeiro Mardi Gras is one of the world’s greatest shows. The samba parades at the Sambodromo Stadium kick off the pre-Mardi Gras festivities, while dances at Cinelândia, numerous Rio Scala balls and colourful downtown street parades combine to shock and awe at every juncture. Renting an apartment, villa or house that’s close to the action is a good idea: at HomeAway Holiday Rentals, we have many Rio de Janeiro properties to let, at excellent prices. From cosy cottages to luxurious condos overlooking the ocean, we’ve got your accommodation needs covered. Read on for a rundown of the Rio de Janeiro Mardi Gras!



Rio de Janeiro Mardi Gras - what not to miss!


Samba Parade Samba Parade

Nothing on earth quite compares to the Samba Parade. So what is it? A bit like the opening ceremony of an Olympic Games, the Samba Parade sees Rio’s samba schools square off, competing for national pride in an exuberant pageant. Mingle in a sea of spectators as the Cariocas (Rio denizens) march and dance to the music, while huge, richly-decorated floats drift around the Sambodromo. Often touted as a ‘tropical opera’, the parade follows a narrow, 700-yard route, and lasts from 9pm until dawn. Be sure to check the Rio Carnival site for the 2014 particulars!

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The Magic Ball The Magic Ball

What to say about the Magic Ball, the legendary shindig that takes place on Mardi Gras Saturday? Quite simply, it is, of all the balls of the ‘Carnaval’, the most swank. Oozing glamour and sophistication, its attendees dress to the nines in tuxedos or emerald-studded dresses - a number of international VIPs are invariably among the guests. Tickets, incidentally, include buffet dinner and access to a free bar, as well as to the numerous ballrooms of the venue - the Copacabana Palace Hotel. For best value, pick up a standing ticket - it doesn’t include assigned seating, but tables are available on the balcony, close to the buffet!

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Street parties Street parties

Rio street parties don’t confirm to a set schedule: as a matter of fact, they get so wild they bring traffic to a standstill. Open-air dances shake the streets during this giddy weekend, with an emphasis on shelving inhibitions and encouraging spontaneity. The most organised of these blowouts takes place on Cinelândia Square, Friday through to Tuesday, kicking off in the afternoon and finishing past three in the morning. It’s not just tuneless boozers belting out songs either, but acclaimed orchestras and singers. If you can’t make it into the Sambodromo, the party outside the stadium on Parade night is, if possible, even more raucous than the one taking place inside!

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Samba Land Samba Land

The best thing about Samba Land (Terreirão do Samba) is that it doesn’t start, or end, when the Mardi Gras does. In fact, it typically opens for business on February 1st, and ends in the middle of the month. An open-air space resurrecting the spirit of Praça Onze, a large downtown square thought to be the birthplace of samba, Samba Land is unmissable. There are over 50 food stands, so the air is alive with both the scent of food - and the sound of music! Live concerts, featuring a fresh line-up every night, roll on till 5.30am, and the surrounding bars, kiosks and theatres are always packed. Rock on!

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Rio Scala balls Rio Scala balls

The famous Scala nightclub is the epicentre of Mardi Gras sensibilities, offering thematic dances each night and boasting the grandest indoor celebrations in the city. Located on Avenida Treze de Maio, Scala’s balls include the Black Ball (Friday), celebrating street band Cordao do Bola Preta, the Samba School Mangueira Ball (Saturday), a traditional knees-up with the Mangueira troupe, the Marvellous City Ball (Sunday), the Long Live the Beer! Ball (Monday) - self-explanatory - and the famous Gay Gala Ball, which brings the Mardi Gras to a close on Tuesday evening. The latter is not only popular with a gay audience, incidentally; if you’re fun, flamboyant, frisky - or perhaps all three - you will have a great time.

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Rio de Janeiro Accommodation

Spacious Three Bedroom Ipanema Beachfront Apartment with Ocean Views and Swimming Pool - #580

This spacious apartment located in a great area of Ipanema is close to everything and offers beautiful ocean views. It has 3 bedrooms for up to 6 people. There is one queen size bed with en suite bathroom. The 2nd bedroom has two single beds and t...

Spectacular apartment in Posto 5 Copacabana facing the sea - # 7

Luxurious and very spacious apartment of 150 m² with 2 bedrooms and Copacabana Beach panoramic view that stretches from Posto 6 to Leme and the Sugar Loaf. The apartment has 2 bedrooms (one en suite). Both beds are queen size. Both bedrooms have a...

Ipanema One Bedroom Penthouse With Panoramic Views - #599

This luxury one bedroom penthouse is our most popular unit and is located in the best area of Ipanema at the corner of Visconde de Piraja and Vinicius de Morais. The distance to the beach is about 300 meters. On the main floor the is a kitchen ar...

Apartment in Praia do Flamengo Flamengo 600m from subway - Air and Cable

Apartment in Praia do Flamengo, light and airy morning sun with 24 hour concierge. Have fridge, microwave and kitchenware. It has 2 single beds and 1 extra mattress, closet, cable TV, air conditioning and ceiling fan. Pillows, bedding and bath. Ba...

Apartment in Praia do Flamengo. Park View! 500m from metro Cattete.

Apartment in Praia do Flamengo, light and airy, morning sun, 24-hour concierge. Overlooking the Flamengo Park, next to the Museum of the Republic. Kitchen with refrigerator, stove, microwave, sandwich maker and utensils. It has 1 double bed, 1 sin...
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