Bursting with colour, culture and vibrancy, Rio Carnival is the biggest street party in the world with an anticipated half a million people expected for this year's event.
While the main attractions of Carnival are held in the Sambadrome, the spirit of celebration pulses through every corner of the city. For a more authentic Carnival experience, you're better off heading to one of the city's iconic street party's, called 'blocos'.
Blocos happen in almost every neighbourhood across the city and vary in size and nature, even carrying their own distinct set of party traditions. Overwhelmed? Don’t be: we’ve laid out the 6 main blocos that are not to be missed this year…
#1 – Banda de Ipanima
As the city’s oldest bloco, Banda da Ipanema is one of the most iconic and most popular street parties at carnival. The bloco parades along the beach, passing breathtaking views of the Brazilian sunset and offering its participants a cool refreshing dip in the waters between partying. Banda de Ipanema is all about being over the top – so you’ll be expected to dress in your craziest colours as you samba alongside flamboyant drag queens.
#2 – Sargento Pimenta
Flamengo Park is home to Sargento Pimenta’s bloco, the street party which sets itself apart from the crowd with its distinct music style. Deviating from the default sounds of samba, Sargento Pimenta takes its influence from the Beatles and other pop music. If you want to be close to the music, be sure to arrive early – this bloco can get heaving with music lovers.
#3 – Monobloco
As one of carnival’s main blocos, Monobloco is absolutely not to be missed. Often bringing in millions of party-goers, the location was recently changed to accommodate its growing size. Keeping with the more authentic samba, the music is lead by Pedro Luís e a Parede, a well known esteemed local percussionist, so talented that he’s become something of a Brazilian legend. Alongside samba, party goers can also rock out to funk, xote and samba-rock.
#4 – Céu na Terra
Situated in the breathtaking Santa Teresa, this bloco will see you rub shoulders with locals as you dance on the cobblestoned streets of this picturesque neighbourhood. As a more traditional bloco, puppets, masks and ribbons are the norm at this street party. You’ll go for the party, but you’ll stay for the gorgeous view: there’s a reason Santa Teresa means heaven on earth…
#5 – Suvaco do Cristo
Beautiful as this sentence may sound, this bloco literally translates to ‘Christ’s armpit’. But don’t worry, that’s not an indication of some sort of odd tradition held at this bloco. Starting at the city’s gorgeous botanical gardens, this bloco is decidedly more relaxed than some of the others, attracting a more low-key crowd with its bohemian vibe. Not one to miss if you’re looking to ease your way into the carnival weekend.
#6 – Cordao do Bola Preta
This is Carnival’s biggest street party, with over 2 million people turning up to last year’s affair. Cordao do Bola Preta is the bloco that transcends age, music taste and preference, bringing everyone together as one. Formed over 95 years ago, this bloco is traditionally held on the Saturday of Carnival, making it a main attraction. If you want to blend in, arrive wearing the blocos signature uniform of white and black polka dots.