* Irene's Country Corner * - Brasil - Carnival in Rio de Janeiro


© Pascale. Not for download. Please, visit Miss Price's Graphics if you like this graphic.

© LIESA - Mangueira Samba School 2005
Rio de Janeiro carnival parade - carnival 2005

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro

Carnival is undoubtedly the most popular event among all popular feasts in Brazil, and the parade that takes place in Rio de Janeiro is one of the most famous in the country. People from all over Brazil and different parts of the world come to Rio to take part in the parades or just to watch them live on the Marquês de Sapucaí Avenue, popularly known as "Sambódromo" or Avenida do Samba (Samba Avenue). A large number of people gather just to watch or take part in the fabulous samba schools parad and the event is broadcasted live from the samba avenue.


The origins of carnival in Rio

The carnival in Rio de Janeiro began more than 250 years ago, with the Portuguese feast "entrudo" (from the Latin word introito, which means beginning). Introduced in Brazil by the Portuguese, the "entrudo" was a violent and primitive way of celebrating the carnival, a popular event which consisted of throwing water and flour on people. In 1826, the "entrudo" was prohibited for the first time, but it returned some time later and persisted for many years despite consecutive interventions by the authorities. Finally, in 1856, a police chief in Rio de Janeiro prohibited the "entrudo" and its downfall started when carnival groups known as "ranchos" and "sociedades" were introduced to the carnival. It was the beginning of the great carnival in Rio.

Until 1899 no songs were expressly written for carnival, and people danced to music of European inspiration with the exception of some old street parades that were called "cordões", which date from the end of the 18th century. These street parades celebrated carnival dancing to the sound of some Afro-Brazilian rhythms.

Chiquinha Gonzaga (1847-1935) was the first person to compose a song especially for carnival. She wrote the "marchinha" (little marching song if it's translated literally) "Ô Abre Alas!" (Make Way) in 1899, and it was a great success of the "cordão" called Rosas de Ouro. It was from 1899 onwards that carnival was celebrated with songs composed especially for this purpose.


Picture © Augusto Malta.
Picture © Augusto Malta
"Corso" on Rio branco Avenue during carnival 1919.


When the convertible automobiles were created, the "corsos" appeared. The "corsos" were automobile parades with tons of paper confetti and streamers. People using costumes used to throw confetti on each other from their cars, which came one following the other along the streets. But it became extinct when non-convertible cars were created. It was then that the samba schools, began to appear.


Porto da Pedra Samba School - Carnival 2005. © Copyright LIESA.
A float from Porto da Pedra Samba School (carnival 2005)
remembering the "corso" from the old carnivals.


It is still possible to enjoy street carnival with groups called "blocos" or "bandas" that are followed by enthusiastic crowds in the neighborhoods of Rio, such as Tijuca, Ipanema, Centro (downtown) and Leblon.

Bloco "Cordão do Bola Preta", parading at Cinelândia - Carnival 2003 - © JB Online
© JB Online
Cinelândia, in downtown Rio and the Municipal Theater, on the right - Carnival 2003


Bloco "Cordão do Bola Preta", parading at Cinelândia - Carnival 2003 - © O Globo
© O Globo
Bloco "Cordão do Bola Preta" - Carnival 2003.


Below is a "bloco" called "Bloco do Buda da Barra", back in 1982.

© Irene.  Not for download.


On the left is the famous figure of Rio's carnival called Rei Momo. On the right is the standard bearer. These pictures were taken by my father on a street in Barra da Tijuca where the components of this "bloco" (called "Bloco do Buda") gathered to begin the parade. This "bloco" performed on Sernambetiba Avenue, in Barra da Tijuca every year when I was a child. This picture is from 1982.

 Other ways to celebrate carnival besides joining "blocos" or going to the "sambódromo" is going to clubs dressed in carnival costumes. When I was a child I used to go to some clubs in Barra da Tijuca, in Rio de Janeiro.

© Irene. Not for download.
Carnival 2005


 © Irene. Not for download. Please, visit Graphics by Irene if you like this graphic.

© Irene. Not for download.
Carnival 1981

 Me with my sister and my cousins in 1981.



© Pascale. Not for download. Please, visit Miss Price's Graphics if you like this graphic.


* Back to the Carnival in Rio Menu *


  This page was created on: January 20th 2002.
Last updated on: January 9th 2006.

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