Carnival Brazil Handbook: Must-Know Tips for Visitors

What is the Carnival de Rio de Janeiro and how do you prepare for it?

Ah, the Carnival in Brazil. If there’s one thing that can be said for sure, it’s that you’re guaranteed an amazing time! With street parties and colorful parades going on all over the city, it’s no wonder this annual event draws such a huge crowd. But if you’re planning on joining the fun in 2022, there are a few things you’ll want to know first.

That’s why we’ve put together this handy Carnival Brazil 2022 Handbook — to make sure your visit goes as smoothly as possible. Read on for our top tips!

What Is Carnival in Rio de Janeiro?

Carna Rio de Janeiro, or Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, is an annual festival held in the days leading up to Lent. It’s a time when people let loose, party hard, and celebrate life. The streets are filled with music, dancing, and revelry.

The carnival officially starts on a Friday, but the festivities really get going on the Saturday night before, known as “Sabadão.” This is when the famous blocos (street parties) take over the city. Blocos are organized groups that march through the streets playing music and handing out fliers for their upcoming parties. Some are huge with thousands of people, while others are more intimate affairs. There’s sure to be one (or more!) that fits your taste.

On Sunday, things really kick into high gear with the “Desfile das Campeãs” or “Parade of the Champions.” This is when the top samba schools from Rio’s carnival compete against each other in a spectacular parade. The schools spend months (and sometimes even years) preparing their floats and costumes, and the results are truly amazing.

Carnival continues throughout the week, with parties and parades going on day and night. Things come to an end on “Fat Tuesday,” also known as “Mardi Gras.” This is when people eat rich foods and party before Lent officially kicks off.

When Is The Carnival In Brazil?

Carnival in Brazil typically takes place in February or March. The exact dates change from year to year, depending when Lent falls. This year’s Carnival activities were postponed from their original scheduled date in February 2022 because of a huge spike in COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant. For Carnival Brazil 2022, the festival will be held from April 20-30.

Must-Do Activities At the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro

No trip to Carnival in Brazil would be complete without checking off a few key activities. Here are some of the things you absolutely must do during your visit:

Watch the Parade of the Champions

As we mentioned before, this is one of the highlights of the carnival. Make sure to get there early to snag a good spot.

Join a Bloco

Be sure to join one of these huge street parties. You’re sure to have plenty of fun meeting new people and socializing with locals and visitors alike!

Check Out the Samba Schools

The samba schools are responsible for the amazing floats and costumes you’ll see in the parade. But they’re also worth checking out even when they’re not performing. Most of them have their own headquarters where you can go to learn more about their history and see some of their costumes up close.

Trade Beads

One of the most unique things about Carnival in Brazil is the tradition of trading beads. Why? We’re not quite sure. But it’s definitely a thing, and it’s great fun.

To participate, all you need to do is find someone wearing a necklace of beads (they’re usually happy to give one to you) and offer them something in exchange. It could be a piece of jewelry, a trinket, or even a kiss. It’s all up to you! It’s not uncommon to see people walking around with necklaces of beads and also trading beads with each other. So why not join in on the fun?

Go To a Costume Ball

Costume balls are a carnival tradition. People dress up in elaborate costumes and masks and spend the night dancing and socializing. If you can get an invitation to one, it’s an experience you won’t soon forget.

Terms To Know for a Fun Carnival Experience

Here are a few carnival-related terms you should know before you go:

  • Bloco: A bloco is like a street party on steroids. These groups march through the streets playing music and handing out fliers for their upcoming parties.
  • Bateria: The bateria is the percussion section of a samba school. They provide the beat that the dancers follow.
  • Samba: Samba is a Brazilian musical genre that originated in the Afro-Brazilian community. It’s characterized by a syncopated rhythm and is often played with instruments like drums, guitars, and horns.
  • Desfile das Campeãs: The “Parade of the Champions” is when the top samba schools from Rio’s carnival compete against each other in a spectacular parade.
  • Lent: Lent is a Christian holiday during which people give up something they enjoy for 40 days preceding Easter. Carnival is the perfect time to indulge before giving things up for Lent.

Preparing for a Trip To Rio: Important Health Precautions

Carnival in Brazil is an amazing experience, but it’s important to take some basic health precautions to ensure you have a safe and healthy trip. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Stay Hydrated: Brazil is a hot country, and you’ll be doing a lot of walking and dancing. Make sure to drink plenty of water to avoid getting dehydrated.
  • Wear Sunscreen: Along with staying hydrated, wearing sunscreen is crucial for avoiding heat exhaustion and sun burns. Reapply often, even if you don’t think you’re sweating that much.
  • Avoid Crowds When Possible: Brazil is currently experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases. To avoid getting sick, try to stay away from large crowds when possible. If you must be in a crowd — it’s a festival after all! — make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing as much as possible.
  • Vaccines: There are no specific vaccines required for travel to Brazil (other than COVID, see below), but it’s always a good idea to make sure your routine vaccinations are up to date. These include vaccinations for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), as well as the flu vaccine.

Preparing for a Trip To Rio: COVID-19 Testing Requirements

If you are fully vaccinated you do not need a pre-departure COVID test. If you are not vaccinated, a test must be taken less than 24 hours before your originating flight. Both PCR and Antigen tests are accepted.

Fun Facts & Statistics

Here are some fun things to know about one of the biggest street parties in the world:

  • Carna Rio de Janeiro is the biggest carnival in the world, with over two million people attending each year.
  • The carnival was first held in 1723 when the Portuguese colonized the country. Back then, it was called Entrudo, or entrance. This is what makes it one of the oldest carnivals in the world.
  • Rio’s carnival is considered the “mother” of all carnivals, with many other cities basing their own celebrations on Rio’s model.
  • The average temperature during carnival season in Rio is a balmy 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit). (What’s the humidity? Is it dry or rainy season?)
  • Carna Rio de Janeiro is a spectacle that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. From the costumes and beads to the samba and the street parties, there’s something for everyone at the carnival. Just remember to stay safe and healthy — and you’re sure to have a blast!

Looking for more information on vaccinations to get and safety precautions to take before going on a trip to Rio, Brazil?

TravelBug Health can help you prepare with a pre-travel health consultation and recommend the best vaccines to get before going abroad, whether for a leisure tour like the Brazil carnival, a business trip, humanitarian missions, or international study. We also offer COVID-19 testing for travelers.

Contact us today for information.