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People speculate that the word Carnival derives from caro-vale, meaning "good-bye meat". The reasoning goes something like this: for the 40 days of Lent, nominally Catholic Brazilians give up liver or flank steaks. To compensate for the big sacrifices ahead, they rack up sins in a delirious carnal blowout in honor of King Momo, the King of Carnival.

Carnival is a genuine national celebration, which for the Brazilians is more important than Christmas, New Years and Easter rolled into one, is a celebration that has become the big draw for the tourism industry.  More than anywhere else in Brazil, Carnival in Rio is a spectator event, but it's fantastic spectacle nonetheless.
Every year, wealthy and spaced-out foreigners descend on Rio en mass, to celebrate the biggest Brazilian festival.
Rio de Janeiro's Carnival is larger, livelier, louder and more incredible than anything one can possibly imagine. It has 3 major ingredients and they are the Parade, the balls and the street.

It takes place largely during February, the hottest month in the Southern Hemisphere, when summer is at its peak. Officially Carnival is schedule to run from Saturday before Ash Day Wednesday through to midday on the Wednesday. Today the reality is different however with first major ball of the season taking place on Friday of the proceeding week. It begins with the crowning of the Fat King (King Momo), who is presented with a giant silver and gold key by the city's mayor. Then, the Banda da Carmen Miranda stages its own procession in Ipanema , a few days before the big Parade. Its name comes from the famous samba singer of the 1940's known for his lavish style of costumes.

Non stop Carnival activity starts on the Thursday before Carnival and continues uninterrupted though Wednesday.

Sector 9 is the tourist sector which means that tickets for there are mainly sold abroad and are priced significantly higher. This is the most expensive sector, because of the infrastructure that it offers to the clients private entrance, strong security, different options for food, shops, convenience stores. Besides all that, the major difference on sector 9, is on the Grandstands, which is the only sector, that has marked seats on the grandstands (and they accommodate 2300 people which sectors 3,5,7 and 11 accommodates 2900 people (with the same size).
Open boxes/Box seats :  Called "frisa", uncovered boxes with small divisions, 6 numbered chairs and a small coffee table (no windows to fight for). They are along the avenue right on the samba runway almost street level.

Booking procedure for Carnival tickets

- For all reservations requests for the Carnival period / tickets parades, we send out re-confirmations replies with dead-line of payments and all respective conditions.
- All reservations for carnival – entrance tickets parades and hotel accommodation, are on pre-payment basis and non refundable. We can hold the tickets for a few days but they need to be pre-paid in full in order to have a guarantee.
- We normally have many requests on a world wide basis, but when it comes to final pre-payment dead lines, most of them are cancelled. We only remain with the firm ones, which are the ones we received payment for. 
- Only upon receipt of payment, we send out final confirmations of bookings for entrance tickets parades and hotel accommodation and allocate these bookings to our final reservation / purchase charts.
- We always buy our ticket allotment for the parades in bulk and according to the total number of tickets our clients requested/booked and paid for till the informed cut off date.
- These tickets are purchased directly with official bureau - the official organizer of the Rio Carnival at a beneficial better and official rate and in return, they then make the distribution and allocations of the seats/entrance ticket to each agency accordingly.
- We have no way to increase our final given number of tickets to the official bureau after October 1st.
- However, it is common practice that we can still get tickets with 'brokers', which we call black-market, as they do buy tickets in larger bulk at own risk and re-sell them of course at their established rates.
Normally, they charge around 100% more and The closer it gets to Carnival, the more expensive they get of course.
Above is the normal procedure we always apply for the entrance tickets of the parades and we trust that you understand and proceed with your bookings during this period accordingly.


- SIB Round trip transfer Hotel / Carnival Parade / Hotel
U$  per person (shuttle bus)

- PRIVATE Transfer Hotel with guide / Carnival Parade + PRIVATE Transfer Carnival Parade / hotel WITHOUT guide
U$ BULK (Van with capacity up to 9 passengers)
Guide will accompany clients during the transfer from hotel to the Carnival Parade, however the guide will not be allowed to access the Sambodrome (from the time that the pax are inside the Sambodrome, all assistance will be done by Walpax staff).
When clients decide to leave, they should contact Walpax staff in the Sambodrome who will contact the driver (who will be waiting outside of the Sambodrome) so that the he can park the vehicle and arrange for the clients’ pick-up (the clients must advise approximately 30 minutes in)

- PRIVATE Transfer Hotel with guide / Carnival Parade + PRIVATE Transfer Carnival Parade / hotel with guide
U$ BULK (Van with capacity up to 9 passengers)
Guide will accompany clients during the transfer from hotel to the Carnival Parade, however the guide will not be allowed to access the Sambodrome (from the time that the pax are inside the Sambodrome, all assistance will be done by Walpax staff).
When clients decide to leave, they should contact Walpax staff in the Sambodrome who will contact the driver (who will be waiting outside of the Sambodrome) so that the he can park the vehicle and arrange for the clients’ pick-up (the clients must advise approximately 30 minutes in)
Guides do not stay with the client in the Sambodrome. In case that clients require the guide throughout the entire night in the Sambodrome, one extra ticket must be purchased for the guide, who will be at clients’ disposal.



The Sambadrome or Samba Parade Avenue is where the samba schools parade over Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Built in 120 days, between October, 1983, and February of the following year, the Sambadrome was designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer. The Avenue is 700 meters long, and 13.5 meters wide. The total area of the complex is 85 thousand square meters, and has a capacity for over 60 thousand people in the stands, boxes, and floor level chairs. Right at the end of the avenue, is the Praça da Apoteose, where the samba schools end their parades. It is 10.4 thousand square meters and is also used for shows and performances featuring national and international acts.

A City-wide explosion of typically Carioca merry-making with the greatest street celebration in Brazil. A party for the entire town, interliking thrills, creativeness, colors, music, costumes and plenty of dreams. The sheer scope of Carnival involves art, music, literature, magic and above all, life itself.

From the period of Carnival, Rio de Janeiro once again plunges into the greatest theme-party on earth, with many pre-carnival warm-up events, and an unforgettable wrap-up on the Champion Saturday, at the Sambadrome downtown. The Spectacle of the famous Samba School Parade with all the contagious gaiety of its beauty and enthusiasm, with that irresistible beat, makes Carnival quite unforgettable.

Sambodrome tickets 2009

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Samba Parade in RioSamba Schools in the Special Group
Sunday and Monday.  Doors open at 17.00, opening ceremony at 20.00 and parades start at 21.00

This is the Parade the high-point of Rio Carnival, with seven schools on both days. The schools belonging to this group are especially magnificent and sumptuous.

The two days are similar in terms of set-up. 6 of the best 12 Samba Schools march on Sunday and 7 on Monday. If you only opt for one day it should be Monday. The excitement of the people already reaches its ultimate limits by then and the winner usually comes from that day. 


The Independent League of the Children's Samba Schools selects the participants for each guild from public school students, by best performance in the classroom. They parade on the Passarela Professor Darcy Ribeiro on Friday of Carnival at 19:00. Their parade follows the procedure of the big schools.

COURTS ("Quadras") and rehearsals
The place where rehearsals are held is called a "quadra". All of them have something in common: the bubbling happiness of their participants.

DESIGNER (Carnavalesco)
This is the individual who is responsible for the artistic work of designing, producing and directing the school's parade. Sometimes they chose and write the schools's theme of the year, too. They design every costume and float, chose and supervise the purchasing of materials, supervise the construction and manufacture of floats, costumes and accessories. They can earn a lot of money in a top school. The names of the top carnival designers are as well known as the names of top film directors. They have their own idiosyncratic style, some being known for being very futuristic (Salgueiro), baroque/rococo (Imperatriz , Mangueira), or have a special preference for a particular topic (like Beija-Flor´s preference of their designers' team for anything native Brazilian-Indian).

FLAG BEARER AND MASTER OF CEREMONIES ("Porta-bandeira" and "Mestre-sala")
They have a very important mission, since they carry the school's flag and banner. They use luxurious costumes. As they dance along the avenue, the master of ceremonies courts and at the same time protects the flag-bearer (originally he had a knife to make sure that the other schools are not damaging the flag, making them loose the competition). Their dance is the most elaborate and elegant. The schools have more than one couple of flag bearers but only the front one (in front of the drummer group) is important and gains scores.

Also called  "carros alegóricos", they represent part of the school's enredo. They are enormous and luxurious. Beautiful people or famous starts ride on top of the floats. The largest costumes are called "destaques" (highlight). These floats are pushed since motors or animals are not allowed.

These schools are affiliated with the Association of Samba Schools of the city of Rio de Janeiro and are part of the so-called Access Group. There are 10 guilds in Group A that parade on Saturday. The first two groups in Group A will be promoted to the Special Group of the Independent Samba School League (LIESA).

"Momo" is the name of the god of mockery in the Greek mythology, and according to Carnival tradition, King Momo should be jolly and as big as a house. Legend suggests that he was expulsed from the Olympus to come and settle down in Rio, the City of Carnival. The Rio Carnival officially opens with the delivery of the key of the city to King Momo. When King Momo sambas, everything - sequins, feathers and flesh and all people around should also samba with him. He opens all major Carnival events including the Samba Parades.

LEADING COMISSION ("Comissão de frente")
This commission comes at the beginning of the school and its function is to introduce the school to the public, with a group of 12-15 dancers with a highly choreographed routine. At another time in history, it was represented by important people in the school or the "old-team", who parade in suits and greeted the public. Their costumes do not have to reflect the school´s theme.

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LEADING SAMBA SINGER ("Puxador de samba-enredo")
This person is responsible for singing the "Samba-enredo" (samba story) of this school during the parade. He has two of three supporting singers. He is responsible for the time and cadence of the Samba.

As the name is Portuguese already says, these are the people who their juggler steps ("passos") are transformed during the parade into true Samba dancers.
A small wing of the finest samba dancers of the school - no more than 15 or 20. It's very hard to dance the samba at Rio´s speed whilst moving forward at nearly walking pace for 700m (1/2 mile) - the samba dancers are a star turn. They are chosen through competition each year and is certainly high honor to take that role.

Group of percussionists who are responsible for the evolution. This is the heart of the School. It lends life and energy to the whole parade. A community wing, thus the costumes are paid for by the school. The Head of the Drummer Group chooses who is going to play in the group in some continuous auditions at the rehearsals during many months before Carnival. The group's costumes will reflect the theme and they are sometimes so big that it's hard to play. There are overhead mikes carried alongside the group and a sound truck with the singers.

The basic percussion instruments used are: heavy instruments - marking drums, "repique"drums, third category drums or centralizers and "caixas de guerra". The light instruments are: two types of tambourines, "cuicas" (instrument resembling a small keg), cymbals, rattles, frying pans, "agogos" (small metal instrument), and "reco-recos".

The Queen of Carnival is chosen by contest based on her beauty, self-assurance, sociability, ease of expression, congeniality and samba abilities but all in all she must have the "carnival spirit". The 2nd and the 3rd place candidates in the Queen of Carnival contest are named the Princesses of Carnival.

A beautiful female samba dancer in front of and introducing the Drummer Group to the crowd. She is supposed to motivate and inspire the hundreds of male drummers behind her.


The samba schools are associations of people from the same neighborhood, usually a working class community of the favelas and bring a sense of community and belonging. They get together on a regular basis for rehearsals and samba nights and are actually not teaching institutions as their name suggests.
Feeling the need to organize the Carnival club parades, at the end of the 20s, its participants decided to create a guild that would awaken respect and pride without losing the infatuating joy that is so characteristic of the street clubs.
Since the reunions were held nearby a school and their participants were true Samba masters, this association began to be called Samba school.

These schools multiplied and today became the largest attraction of the Rio Carnival. With its "passistas" (juggler step), "samba enredo" (Samba story) and a choreography worthy of a theatrical play, they give a special brilliance to this theme party.
The schools have a huge impact on their neighborhoods, being the best organized entities in the favelas, with thousands of people joining the rehearsals and carnival preparations. They are often politically involved, too.
The samba schools create a pageant with 3,000-5,000 people for the Samba Parade. They have to pick themes, write music and lyrics, make costumes and floats and practice all year to succeed in the Parade.
The schools raise money from ticket sales, television broadcasts and dance events.

SHEDS ("barracões")
Sheds used as workshops for the construction of the floats. These locations are well guarded by school members so that the other schools do not have access to them.

Rehearsals begins as of the month of August for the selection of the "samba-enredo" (samba story) and extend up until just before Carnival.

Each float and each wing has a number of dedicated stewards to ensure that the flow is kept up. They will wear the T-shirt of their wing or float. There are penalty points if the school takes too long to parade and points are also lost in the Rio Samba Parade if there are any gaps between or inside the wings.

In the beginning, they told about the History of Brazil; however, as time went by, the themes diversified and began to deal with sociopolitical issues and even pay homage to eminent personalities in the Brazilian society and in the world. These themes are narrated in the "samba-enredos" (Samba stories).

The wings are made up of groups of people (20 to 100 people) that reunite to parade with the same costumes. The costume will illustrate a particular aspect of the school's theme. They have a name and a president in charge of their organization. A school has several wings, with four special wings.

WING OF THE “BAIANAS” (“Ala das Baianas”)
This is the most traditional and its presence is obligatory in the parades. Generally, it is made up of women, some already quite elderly, with their wide hoop skirts, turbans, and a large cloth over their shoulders. As they turn, theirs costumes show the spectators all the happiness and passion that they have for largest popular festival in Brazil.
Swirling along the avenue, they represent the soul of the samba schools, their African roots. There is a minimum number that must parade or the school gets penalty points (at least 80 in the Special Group). This is an absolute honor and the samba school pays for their costumes. They are much respected and often get a round of applause when passing by. Today only women can have this role while in earlier years men started to dress in those costumes, too. Some schools (like Beija-Flor, Grande Rio, Salgueiro, etc) also have wings of little Baianas of young girls in their teens.

Seven schools parade on the Saturday of Winners, which is the first Saturday after Carnival: Champion and Vice-champion of Access Group A, fifth, fourth, third place of Special Group, Champion and vice-Champion of the Special Group.

The Sambodromo on Samba Parade days is considered to be the safest place in South America. There is a very high concentration of international celebrities, politicians and royalties among the crowd. The Sambodromo is surrounded by huge fences, which no one can pass without using the gates and being checked for both commercial, and safety reasons.

There are snack bars, refreshment stands and restrooms in each Sambodromo sector. In addition, everybody has access to a promenade behind the bleachers within the Sambodromo which is lined with restaurants, ice-cream stands, shops with souvenirs and more restrooms.

What to take
Be prepared that it is only fast food that is available in the Sambodromo, with long queues. So we suggest having your dinner before setting off. You could take plastic containers with beverages and some food, such as fruits. Objects made of polystyrene, bottles, glasses, firecrackers and fireworks are strictly forbidden. Umbrellas are not a good idea, as they can easily get in the way of other people's view of the Parade. Some people take binoculars/theatre glasses.
You can take cameras, videos (however the professional ones are not allowed) etc., it is totally safe inside the Sambodromo. But be warned - only show them after you already checked in and be careful with anything valuable outside

How to dress
Wear whatever you prefer. There are no rules not even standards what to wear for the Samba Parade. People and celebrities in the private boxes will dress up, however. In the Grand Stand sectors, informal street style rules. Use very light clothing as it is usually hot throughout the night and dark colors, not to get too dirty. A raincoat should be considered for the eventuality of a summer shower nevertheless if it rains, vendors will surely have them on sale in the Sambodromo.

When to arrive
The Sambodromo opens its doors at 17.00. Some already queue up for it to get the best seats in sectors without allocated seats, which are considered to be the ones near the front.
There is a little welcome show at 20.00 with King Momo opening the night passing through the Sambodromo. On Saturday a small Italian school parading at 20.00 but not very interesting. An average person truly enjoys and generally watches 3-5 samba schools.

There is a small (about the size of a suburban family home) carnival museum at the Sambodromo which is free of charge and is open from 11 to 5 Tuesday to Sunday. It is located downtown on Rua Marques de Sapucai, the entrance being from Rua Frei Caneca. It has exhibits telling the story of Carnival and samba. Several actual costumes are also on display.

A Banda de Ipanema ocupa a famosa praia no carnaval do Rio de Janeiro. As chamadas bandas são legítimas herdeiras do espírito iconoclasta dos blocos. Rio Carnival Street Bands - (BLOCOS)
Each neighborhood in Rio has its favorite Carnival street band(s) - bandas or blocos. They consist of an orchestra, mainly bass, marching along a pre--determined route, followed by hordes of enthusiastic samba revelers dressed in costumes, bathing suits, plain clothes and many in drag. Blocos are usually smaller, attracting more of a neighborhood crowd the bandas being bigger in size

The most famous Carnival bands are

  • Cordão do Bola Preta is one of the most traditional bands parading downtown.
  • Banda de Ipanema goes out on three separate days in Ipanema, followed by a huge crowd with lots of gay revelers.
  • Suvaco do Cristo parades in the Botanic Garden District, right below the Redeemer statue's arm. The name in English translates to "Christ's armpit", and was chosen for that reason.
  • Carmelitas was supposedly created by nuns but in fact it is just an allegory of the band. It parades in the hills of Santa Teresa.

The operation of a Carnival street band is really quite simple. First people gather at some well known spot, such as a square or neighborhood bar. After a couple or more hours of concentration, the band starts marching its way down the streets. Do not miss the concentration part. Enjoy the show performed by drag queens and children, stopping cars and buses trying in vain to make their way through the crowds. Drivers caught in a banda gridlock have nothing to do but relax and enjoy the moment.
When the band starts marching, stay a little ahead of the bulk of the crowd or you will get stuck in the human mass. Stay close to the band in the back only if you have earplugs or you will go deaf.
Seniors and children of all ages also participate in the street Carnival, so this is the ideal time for the whole family to have a good time together. Zona Sul bands go out in the afternoon. The gathering usually starts around 4 p.m.
Major streets are closed down to traffic, bus routes are changed trying to avoid the inevitable jam. Some bands attract as many as over 10,000 participants. Most bandas also have official T-shirts for sale on the spot for about $10, to help with the costs. They make great souvenirs, as they are sold only on Rio Carnival days