The weather may have been less than perfect, but millions of revellers took to the street over the weekend to celebrate Carnival in riotous fashion.
An estimated two million crammed into Centro on Saturday to follow the city’s longest-established bloco (street samba party), Cordao do Bolo Preto, while further street parties in Leblon, Ipanema, Copacabana and Santa Teresa also proved to be real crowd-pullers. With some one million tourists estimated to be among the revellers, it is clear that Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is a party that the rain just can’t spoil.
And the heavy showers did little to dilute the enthusiasm of those who packed into the Sambodromo on Sunday to see the samba school parades, as the first six contenders for the Carnival Champions title strutted their impressive stuff. Last year’s winners, Unidos da Tijuca, once again pulled off some stunning visual tricks with their horror movie-themed parade, while superstar samba school Mangueira impressed with the sheer power and force of the drumming section as well as the intricate costumes and perfect choreography.
Tonight, the final six, including Beija-Flor and Salgueiro, will get their chance to impress the judges, with the six top-placed schools performing at the closing Champions’ Parade on Saturday night. The winners gain a year’s bragging rights as Rio’s Carnival Champions, and to say the title is fiercely contested would be dramatic understatement.
For anyone without tickets to the shows, it’s not too late – touts often vend at the gates on the night, although ask around to get the best prices if you want to avoid paying through the nose for what is already a very pricey affair.