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World famous around the world, Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is a truly wild and spectacular five-day celebration.

Updated on March 17, 2016



Rio de Janeiro carnival Sambódromo

Beautiful muses, colorful giant floats, thousands of people singing, dancing, and marching in perfect accord - these are the images that traveled the globe and made of Rio's carnival the most famous carnival in the world, and rightfully so.

The world famous rio samba parades are spectacular, highly orchestrated and professional shows that take place in the purpose-built sambódromo the weekend of carnival.

Yet, these shows are a lot more than just parades - they are real competitions with strict sets of rules, and a title at stake.

The samba parades are opened by king Momo (rei Momo), a legendary character from greek mythology who also opens the official rio carnival.

During the parades, rio's most talented samba schools sing and dance their way down samba avenue, in groups of several thousands, parading extravagant and lavish costumes, glorious vibrant and imaginative floats, percussion bands, and choreographed samba dances.

In addition to being beautiful shows which attract millions of viewers worldwide, the parades also encompass a fierce competition which inspires months of work, huge financial investment, and community support that can only be likened to soccer fandom.

While fans cheers and crowds watch the show, official judges scrutinize each element and score the overall performances. Elements of the parade ranging from the samba theme composed for the occasion, to the costumes, and the 'story telling' ability of the parade are judged and individually scored.

The samba schools are ranked into a number of divisions, including the grupo especial, comprising the best among all samba schools, série a, formerly called groupo de accesso and comprising the schools in the second tier, and finally the schools in grupo rio, divided in b, c, and d.

All groups take part in the competition, however, only the grupo especial and série a take part in the sambadrome parade, while the schools part of the grupo rio parade in other parts of town.

The scores given by the judges are counted up live on television on ash wednesday following carnival. The samba school with the highest combined score is then announced as the carnival champion.

The highest scored school in each group moves up into the tier above it for the following year's parade, and the lowest scored school in each group gets demoted into the lower rank group.

For example, the samba school in the grupo especial with the lowest score is demoted to série a for the following year's samba parade, and the school with the highest score from série a gets to join the grupo especial.

On the saturday after the winner is announced, the champions's parade takes place in the sambódromo: this parade shows the six best samba schools perform once again, this time to celebrate the glory of their achievement. Again, lavish costumes and fantastical floats can be seen and magnificent music heard.

With fireworks and huge support from the schools' fans, the champions parade is a much loved event.

The parade of the champions officially starts at 9 pm, but as of 7 pm the sambódromo is home to the parade of the 'embaixadores da alegria' (ambassadors of joy), a march for and by people with special needs.

19 schools in série a parade on the friday and saturday of carnival, and the 12 samba schools of the grupo especial show their talent in the sambódromo on sunday and monday night.

The sambódromo also hosts a children's parade, called samba mirins. The children's samba groups, which are branches of the main samba schools, perform on the tuesday after the main parade in the early evening, following a format similar to the adult schools.

Everyone is welcome!!! :)



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