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

COPACABANA OCEAN VIEW 2300sqf 3BED/3BATH 8 Guests with MAID Service 5 days a wk

Newly renovated/furnished, 2300sqf, 3 bedrooms with King size beds plus one large sofa bed, 3 bathrooms, triple living room with wrap around terrace, on beach block in Copacabana. One apartment per floor. 2 elevators. 11th floor. Completely redone...

Heart of Ipanema, stylish apartment in full service building. IDEAL LOCATION!

This lovely apartment is located in one of the best buildings in Ipanema, just a few steps from the beach, Farme de Amoedo and everything that counts! It is tastefully decorated with a spacious living room with a terrace overlooking the Corcovad...

Ipanema - Brand New One Bedroom Apartment - Ideal Location

This lovely apartment is just a few steps from the beach, Farme de Amoedo and everything that counts! It has been completely remodelled and will start to be rented in January 2013. It is on the 6th floor of a residential building, just a short w...

Rare jewel in Copacabana / all reformed / court beach / wifi / washes and dries / 4 people

New on the market! Conjugadão fully renovated and divided into sitting room with kitchen and separate bedroom. High floor with partial sea one block from the beach view. White ceramic floors, granite countertops, luxury shower and anti-noise windo...

THE CORAL PENTHOUSE - 7 BDR Elegant, Secure Duplex Penthouse + Garden Terraces

This Penthouse with 7 bedrooms can be divided and rented as a separate 3 or 4 bedroom apartment for smaller groups. This just renovated, luxury penthouse is the perfect solution for families or friends or business groups who want to experience th...
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