Rio de Janeiro Carnival Samba Schools

Rio Carnival Celebrations And The Elaborate Samba School Costumes

Millions of locals and tourists gather to admire the fantastic Samba Schools costumes, singing, and dancing celebrating Rio de Janeiro Carnival. Dancers in elaborate costumes parade through the Sambadrome stadium vying for the top prize. The costumes are a labor intensive effort to create an array of showstopping garments. Each school’s designers and crafters hone their artisan skills to create a dreamy, theme focused parade where dancers are dressed to impress and excite the audience and judges.

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2024 Samba Parade Dates in Rio

In the amazing stadium, the Access Group has parades on February 9th and 10th and the Special Group will parade on February 11th and 12th. The Champions’ parade is on Saturday, February 17th where the six winners from the Special Group strut their stuff.

Ready to jet to Brazil and enjoy the show? You can purchase Rio Carnival 2024 Sambadrome tickets and immerse yourself in the magic of Carnival.

Visit A Samba School

Rio de Janeiro Carnival
Playing Dress Up

You can immerse yourself in the vibrant party atmosphere that represents Rio Carnival by touring one of her famous Samba Schools. There are a variety of Samba School tours through Viator. A local guide will navigate you through the streets of Rio and deliver you to the home to Carnival artisans hard at work.

It is the perfect tour for anyone interested in the creation of fun, vibrant costumes and festival celebrations.

Costumes From Past Parades

Below are a few of the fun costumes we saw at the Grande Rio Samba School. They represent the spirit of celebration from previous Carnival parades.

Elaborate Headdresses

Made with everything from cloth to feathers and adorned with jewels, bits, and bobs.

Rio de Janeiro Carnival
Colorful Headdress
Rio de Janeiro Carnival


Costumes that come from an imagination beyond everyday!

Rio de Janeiro Carnival
White Costume
Rio de Janeiro Carnival
Black Costume
Rio de Janeiro Carnival
Red Costume
Rio de Janeiro Carnival
Racks of Costumes

The History and Evolution of Carnival

Rio de Janeiro Carnival
Aunt Ciata

In the early 20th Century Samba was played in local gatherings celebrating African slaves music and Black culture. These multi day long, lively parties were often shut down by the police and the musicians arrested. Hatred and fear of something different is one of the saddest part of our history. We need to open our eyes to cultural events, music, dances, and celebrations from every global region. Samba survived because of a group of “Aunties” from Bahia (a Brazilian State) who worked tirelessly to make Samba more mainstream. The most famous auntie was Aunt Ciata (aka Hilária Batista de Almeida), a spiritual and community leader that opened the world to the beauty of Samba.

A group known as Deiza Falar, from the Estácio neighborhood of Rio, was the first Samba School. During Carnival, as early as 1920, neighborhood groups participated in the Carnival parade with floats, costumes, and music based on a particular theme.

Samba Schools of Rio

Rio de Janeiro Carnival
Grande Rio Samba School

Samba Schools richly reflect neighborhood cultures. Each school engages thousands of people to decorate floats, craft costumes, and organize parade logistics. Some people are employed by the Samba School, but many are volunteers — particularly as you approach Carnival time.

There are over 70 Samba Schools in Rio de Janeiro who participate in the four days of Carnival Samba parades. The twelve largest and most important Samba Schools make up the Special Group that competes at the Sambadrome. These exceptional schools draw 3,000-5,000 spectators during the competition.

The remaining Samba Schools also compete as part of the Access Group, drawing large crowds while strutting their costumes and floats. Each year, the Access Group Schools compete for a chance to move up to the coveted Special Group displacing one of the elite twelve for the chance to take center stage.

Sambadromo’s Samba Parades

Schools keep their elaborate costumes a closely guarded secret until parade time. During my recent tour of the Grande Rio Samba School, there were rooms we could not see, and places where photography was prohibited.

More Than Wild Street Parties

Rio de Janeiro Carnival
Float Horse Sculpture

The pageantry of the Samba Parades in Rio de Janeiro is the central beating heart of Rio Carnival. If you are ever free to visit Rio de Janeiro Carnival you can count yourself as one of the lucky party revelers. However, you can visit one of the Samba Schools to get the essence of Carnival without the crazy street parties and wild events.

Happy Sewing,



Rio de Janeiro Carnival


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