An Unforgettable Spectacle: A Review of Carnival in Rio 2024

Carnival in Rio Sunday, Feb 11, 2024; Year XV – Volume 3

One of my bucket list items was to experience Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Carnival in Rio isn’t just a celebration; it’s a pulsating artery, pumping life, music, and joy into the streets for five electrifying days. From February 9th to 17th, 2024, the city is transformed into a vibrant tapestry of feathers, samba, and revelry, leaving an unforgettable mark on all who witness its magic.

The undisputed highlight is the Sambadrome parade, where the city’s top samba schools strut their stuff. Each school tells a story through elaborate floats, dazzling costumes, and heart-pounding samba beats. The air vibrates with energy as thousands of dancers, adorned in intricate costumes, move in perfect harmony, their smiles contagious.

Despite having little knowledge of the destination and some concerns about safety, I decided to take the plunge and booked a cruise from Buenos Aires to Rio for the 2024 festivities. Here’s a look at my experience.

How I booked Carnival in rio:

Initially, I considered a cruise excursion, thinking it would be the safest option. However, I eventually decided to go with Booker’s International, one of the leading providers of Rio Carnival experiences. They offered a variety of options, good information on their website, and helpful support via WhatsApp. I also booked transportation through them for added peace of mind.


Observations of carnival in rio:

  • We were told to come early, due to many road closures and potential traffic delays. The grandstands were mostly empty until 10 pm, even though we arrived at 7:30-8 pm.

  • The sectors were well-marked, but there were few concessions stands near our sector 12, with only fried chicken and potato treats. An abundance of alcohol was available at one stand, however.

  • The costumes of revelers were much more conservative than I expected, with no nudity. I had anticipated painted boobs and tiny thongs, but mostly I saw glitter-enhanced hats and hula skirts adorning the many body types and shapes.

  • The floats were amazing, but the music wasn’t quite as impressive. Maybe I’m biased, but I like the beat to vary, not to drone over and over to sound like one hour-long composition.

  • There were approximately 250,000 spectators in the Sambradrome, and each samba school’s parade lasted over an hour, extending the procession through the night.

  • Local TV personalities and celebrity guests were visible in a studio above the stands, projected onto large screens for spectators to view the parade and happenings.

  • We only saw one samba school, Unidos do Porto da Pedra, which celebrated popular originality based on the teachings of the Lunario Perpetuo almanac. Their parade featured 14 floats and lasted over an hour and ten minutes.

Recommendations for attending carnival in rio:

  • If comfort is second to spectacle, don’t spend a lot on seats! Opt for the grandstands, even if they’re far above the parade route, as you’ll be able to see more.

  • Bring binoculars!

  • The designated seats may be numbered, but they’re not very comfortable after sitting awhile. I thought they’d be a safer bet than the grandstand, but ultimately, I’m not sure they are they worth the premium.

  • Be sure to ask for specific meetup locations and times for pre-arranged transportation. Despite being told where to meet between each school presentation, we missed our ride by minutes standing in the wrong location.

  • Arrive early to avoid street closures, but not too early! We waited for two hours for the festivities to begin.

  • If you’re inclined to be up late, you can watch the procession weave from the venue down designated streets, ending at the port. I imagine a great view from any of the observation decks onboard the ships docked there.

  • Don’t bring any valuables; hide your money and wallet securely.

  • There’s a service station in Sector 11 for women experiencing any violence or harassment.

  • If something goes wrong with transportation or transfers, don’t hesitate to complain; you might get a refund (we did).

Overall, I had an amazing experience at the Rio Carnival. While there were some things I could have done differently, such as bringing binoculars and arriving at a better time, the spectacle of the parades and the energy of the crowds were truly unforgettable. If you’re ever considering going to the Rio Carnival, I highly recommend it! Just be sure to do your research and plan accordingly.