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  The world's second largest party takes place in Rio, losing only to Salvador's carnival, which tops 2 million people on two avenues for 6 consecutive days. Rio gets packed with tourists from around Brazil and abroad, and the upper class residents leave to celebrate elsewhere, usually Buzios, Angra or Salvador.

What is Carnival?
Carnival is an exuberant celebration of the carnal sins, as its Latin name suggests (carni=meat, val=galore). This developed due to the Italian church's rule of demanding celibacy for 40 days before lent. What's the natural thing to do when you know you are going to starve? That's right, to stuff your self! Carnival started in Florence, Italy and was soon picked up by the Portuguese living in Brazil centuries ago.

The Florentine feasts involved masks to keep party goers identity and reputation intact. The feather costumes were influenced by the Brazilian natives and the drums from the African slaves. Mix it all up, and never stop, and you get a 200 year tradition involving all the senses for the 5 days before ash Wednesday. (Text from the guide Rio for Partiers)
 
     
 
Carnival Balls 2010 Street Bands and Blocks
In addition to the Samba Parade, and all the fun in the streets, Rio offers a selection of Carnival balls you really should not miss. You won't have to spend a fortune to have a great time! Here you will find the most famous.   This is a great opportunity to really be part of the joy and explosion of energy that is carnival in Rio. This is not a group event that can be scheduled, rather a chance for individuals to join in with local street bands that parade through the different areas of the city. All you need take is yourself and a lot of energy!
     
Carnival Parade 2011
The Sambodrome
This is the event most associated with carnival in Rio. On two days the top ranking samba schools present a stunning spectacle of colour, movement and rhythm.   The official Carnival parades are held in the specially dedicated "Sambadrome". We have compiled all the information you need to decide which seats are the best for you.
   
Samba Schools Rehearsals
Samba City ("Cidade do Samba")
These rehearsals are the best introduction to the authentic samba. The moment the first pulsating sounds from the percussion instruments of a samba school are heard, one's whole body responds and the feet follow the rhythm.   The Samba City is a place that will concentrate the 14 samba schools of the Special Group. Each one will have its own space for producing the extravagant carnival costumes and themed floats but the other areas will be of common use.
   
 

Carnival
Carnival. A general explosion of joy. The most important and bigger popular festival that mixes emotions, creativity, plasticity, colors, sounds and many costumes. Unique records of the melting pot that is Brazilian culture. The moment comes when all participants are the protagonists of their own play, costume, plot, and samba. This is carnival year after year.

Carnival, as spelled in Portuguese, is a 4-day celebration. It starts on Saturday, and ends on Fat Tuesday or Mardi gras. Dates change every year.

Little need be said about Carnival in Rio; the samba school parade is world famous and everyone has seen pictures in magazines and on television.

Every year, Rio hosts the world's largest festival - Carnival. Many pre-Carnival festivities begin earlier, while the closing event - the Parade of the Champions - is on Saturday.

The official opening is, when the Mayor hands over the keys of the City to Carnival King Momo and his Queen. This is the kick-off for festivities that dance through the streets all over town, highlighted by parades, contests and balls.

Downtown, the Sambodrome opens its gates to the Samba School parades, beginning with Group B Samba Schools on Friday. Saturday is set aside for Group A - the second highest ranking, with the champion and runner-up promoted to the Major League next year. Sunday and Monday are the Major Samba School parades in the Special Group, while Tuesday sees the Junior Samba Schools. Balls take place every night throughout the week, together with a variety of costume contests.

During this period, hotels in Rio work only with package bookings and pre-payment.

When is Carnival? One of the most frequent questions we hear is “what is the date of Carnival this year?”. Well, believe it or not, it is not an easy question to answer. You have to be part astrologer, part mathematician, and part priest!

Here is how you calculate the Carnival date: 50-47 days before the first Sunday after the first full moon after Vernal Equinox, or in layman’s terms, Ash Wednesday is calculated as 46 days before Easter Sunday, and Carnival falls on the 4 days before Ash Wednesday. Complicated, no?

To make things easier, please find below Brazil Carnival Calendar up to 2015:
» 2010 - February 12th till 17th «
   2011 - March 4th till 9th
   2012 - February 17th till 22nd
   2013 - February 8th till 13th
   2014 - February 28th till March 5th
   2015 - February 13th till 18th