Rio de Janeiro Carnival 2005 
Carnival 2005 What to See & Do

Carnival 2005 happens from February 5 (Saturday) through 8 (Tuesday). We suggest arriving a few days earlier. There's so much to do and see during Carnival that you will not have much time left to explore the city. Try to plan your Carnival activities ahead to sample the variety. Include in your must-do's the Samba Parade, street bands, and balls.

The whole summer is Carnival season. To avoid the higher rates charged by hotels during the main event, you could arrive one or two weeks ahead. Banda de Ipanema opens Carnival 2005 street festivities on January 22 .On the following weekend, also in
Ipanema, there's Banda Simpatia é Quase Amor on Saturday (January 29). On Sunday (January 30) it's Monobloco, starting in Leblon, and going all the way to Posto 10 at Ipanema Beach.

Samba School rehearsals are also a great pre-Carnival idea. They happen every weekend at the samba courts, known as quadras de samba. These venues are in distant areas that are tricky to get to. Go with a group in a package including a local escort, and round-trip transportation. Once you're inside, it's very safe. Samba school percussion bands or baterias sometimes play live at popular South Side dance clubs and venues.

The Samba Parade happens on February 6 and 7. The show starts at 9 p.m. and ends only with sunlight on the next day. We suggest trying to book your tickets ahead, as seats at the Sambodrome are quite limited.

Feb 5 - Saturday is the first official Carnival day. Banda de Ipanema concentrates at Praça General Osório at 4-5 p.m. At 7:00 p.m. the luxury costume competition starts at Hotel Glória. At night there are plenty of balls to choose from. If you have an extra R$400 or so to spend, do not miss the legendary ball at the Copacabana Palace Hotel. Luxury costumes or black tie are mandatory. You will rub shoulders with a number of international and local VIP's, top models, the works. Not far, at clubs like Help you will find hotter balls for single men. X-Demente Party in Lapa's Fundição Progresso is a good bet for clubbers, gays, lesbians, and their friends (dance music sets the pace, not samba). If you still have some energy left, go on to their After Party starting at 6 a.m... Access group samba schools parade at the Sambodrome from 7 p.m. onwards, trying to climb their way up (or back) to the special group. There is a street band competition downtown, on Av. Rio Branco, starting at 8 p.m (free).

Feb 6 - Sunday is when Banda Simpatia é Quase Amor marches in Ipanema (free) attracting as many as 15,000. Today is your first chance to watch Special Group Samba Schools march at Rio's Sambodrome. The show starts at 9 p.m., and ends around 6 a.m. There will be 7 samba schools, and each has from 70 to 85 minutes to march. Invest on a seat in a good sector. Bleachers at Sector 9 and 11 have numbered seats. You may also consider runway boxes (frisas), mezzanine boxes (camarotes), even standard bleachers (arquibancadas). Expect to pay from US$100 and up if you want to actually see anything (more details at Meet the Sambodrome). If you are traveling on a budget, watch the schools concentrate outside the Sambodrome, enjoy the attractions at Terreirão do Samba on Av. Presidente Vargas ($8), or watch Rio Folia in Lapa, with live music shows and performances all night long (free). For a dance party in a different environment, try B.I.T.C.H. at theme park Terra Encantada.

Feb 7 - Monday is the second competition day, and a new assortment of 7 schools takes over the Sambodrome's runway. Catch up with your sleep first, as the show lasts over 10 hours! If you are game for new experiences, consider marching with a Samba School. Some Cariocas march with as many as 3 or 4 on a single night! You do not have to go that far, but participating in the show is such a unique experience, that you could at least give it a thought. If you are on a budget, stay outside and take photos of costumes and floats (with your disposable camera), go to the popular balls, or watch the shows at Terreirão do Samba ($5) and Rio Folia. The party at The Place is a good bet if you're into the circuit scene.

Feb 8 - Tuesday The so-called Mardi-Gras, is another day full of activities. In the afternoon, Banda de Ipanema goes out for the last time of the year. Bring your camera to capture the images of the hilarious drag queens that march in front of the band. At night you have a number of balls to choose from. One of the most popular events is the straight-friendly Scala Gay Costume Ball, in Leblon. Party with the most exotic collection of characters you will ever see! Wear something colorful and fun, and you may be picked out for an interview - the ball is broadcast on TV to all Brazilian states!

The winner of the Samba Parade is elected on Wednesday. It is worthwhile staying in town for a few more days. On Friday 11 there's the Rio edition of Salvation at The Place, The Winners Parade is on Saturday, February 12. It includes the six special group schools that made the best score, the winner of the access group, and other special attractions. Print the box below, and bring it along. It will help you make the best of your Carnival days and nights. See you in Rio!

Carnival 2005 Party Planner
Feb 4 Friday
  • Carnival 2005 King Momo is crowned by mayor at 1 p.m. - free
  • Shows start at Terreirão do Samba and Rio Folia, from 8 p.m.
  • Parade of Children's Samba Schools at the Sambodrome, from 5 p.m.
  • Cinelandia Ball (Downtown), from 9 p.m. - free
  • Red and Black at the Scala (Leblon) from 11 p.m.
  • Baile do Havai at Morro da Urca
  • Gay Dance Party at The Place (Downtown)
  • Gay Balls at Le Boy (Copacabana), Incontrus, and Elite (Downtown)
Feb 5 Saturday
  • Cordão do Bola Preta Street Band (Downtown), from 9:30 a.m., free
  • Samba & Feijoada Lunch at Hotel Everest Rio (guests only)
  • Banda de Ipanema, from 4-5 p.m. (Praça General Osório, free)
  • Competition of deluxe Costumes at Hotel Glória from 7 p.m.
  • Parade of Access Group Samba Schools, from 7 p.m. (Sambodrome)
  • Street Band Competition at Av. Rio Branco, from 8 p.m. - free
  • Copacabana Palace Luxury Ball from 11 p.m. (costumes or black-tie)
  • X-Demente Party at Fundição Progresso (Downtown)
  • Carnival Balls Scala, Help & other venues, from 11 p.m.
  • Gay Ball at Le Boy and Incontrus (Copacabana)
  • Shows start at Terreirão do Samba and Rio Folia, from 8 p.m.
Feb 6 Sunday
  • Samba Parade on Sunday at 9 p.m.
  • Carnival Balls (from 11 p.m.) Scala, Help
  • Gay Balls at Le Boy (Copacabana) and Elite (Downtown)
  • B.I.T.C.H. Party at theme park Terra Encantada (Barra)
  • Off-Carnival Parties at Bunker, 00, and other dance clubs
  • Shows start at Terreirão do Samba and Rio Folia, from 8 p.m.
Feb 7 Monday
  • Samba Parade on Monday at 9 p.m.
  • Carnival Balls (from 11 p.m.) Scala, Help & other venues
  • Gay Balls at Le Boy (Copacabana) and Elite (Downtown)
  • Gay Dance Party at The Place
  • Off-Carnival: Parties at Bunker, 00, and other dance clubs
  • Shows start at Terreirão do Samba and Rio Folia, from 8 p.m.
Feb 8 Tuesday
  • Banda de Ipanema from 4 p.m. (Praça General Osório, free)
  • Parade of Access Group B Samba Schools from 9 p.m. (Sambodrome)
  • Scala Gay Costume Ball in Leblon from 11 p.m.
  • Carnival Balls (from 11 p.m.) Help & other venues
  • Gay balls at Le Boy (Copacabana) and Freedom (Barra)
  • X-Demente Party
  • Off-Carnival: Parties at Bunker, 00, and other dance clubs
  • Shows start at Terreirão do Samba and Rio Folia, from 8 p.m.
Feb 12 Saturday
  • Salvation in Rio (Friday)
  • Carnival 2005 Winners Parade at the Sambodrome
  • White Party at The Place (Downtown)

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