How to hit the carnival block parties in Rio?

This quick we’ll help you enjoy the heck out of Carnival block parties not only in Rio but Brazil. We cover topics like how to choose, where to go, when to go and how to dress.

Choose the best one for you.

The best blocos (street block parties), or the most popular ones, are the ones that start way in the morning. This is a way for the city to keep the numbers controlled as some block parties get over a million participants on one large avenue, along the beach, or downtown. To prevent this massive number, the city has allowed these block parties to happen starting at 7 a.m. Yes, that’s right. You wake up early, have coffee, and have breakfast.

So, how do you plan? The first step is to figure out where the small block parties are and, from the small ones, which ones have rock and roll. This can be either foreign, which is usually U.S. slash English rock and roll, from The Beatles to Pearl Jam to Pink Floyd to The Rolling Stones to The Clash, or Brazilian rock, which is bands like Raul Seixas, Jorge Ben Jor, and Tim Maia. Either is fun, of course, but the English ones will hit closer to home.

Moving vs. fixed block parties:

When choosing a block party, don’t choose the moving block parties. These are block parties that start in one location, and the whole band and all the participants walk slowly over to another area, usually a mile or two away. These moving block parties are kind of a pain because you’re always looking for your group members who might get stuck making out with someone behind, and then you’re worried whether they’re going to find you, and so on. So don’t bother going to moving block parties, as they’re more anxious and worrisome than regular standing-still and non-moving block parties.

The best way to figure this out is to ask your concierge or the Airbnb host so they can look it up for you, as it is hard to get this information in any language other than Portuguese.

What to bring

What do you need to bring? Unless it is raining, you should dress comfortably due to the heat.

At the same time, you have to dress up. You have to be party-dressed. You can’t just dress like you’re going to a bar or a club. You have to put on some crazy clothes—you know, bikinis and speedos. Don’t wear flip-flops. Wear shoes because you will be standing up for five to six hours, or maybe more. Buy some stuff from the street vendors selling carnival stuff like hats, flower necklaces, and anything else. But do spend at least 50 reais just so that you look like you belong in the party and not that they’re just observing. People don’t interact with those who don’t dress; they don’t get into the theme and spirit of the carnival.

If you still haven’t left your home, like the US or Europe, you can probably get cool and funny, cool or funny costumes online. You know, something like the Green Man, Frankenstein, Trump, or Hamilton costume.

You want to bring one card, cash, and your phone. You will need your phone for various reasons, but you have to be wary and worried so as not to just leave it in your pocket because pickpockets know how to steal from you without you noticing. Usually in tight areas of the block party.

When to go?

You don’t want to show up halfway through. You want to show up early to a block party. They’re usually scheduled, and these block parties tend to stick to the city-ordered schedule.

You also want to show up early so that you can position yourself well. What’s your position as well? You want to stay somewhat close to the band, but not too close; otherwise, you can’t talk to each other. At the same time, you want to be somewhat close to the bathrooms, and you want to be somewhat close to these beer vendors. So showing up early allows you to position yourself at this utopian ideal spot.

And since you’re going to smaller block parties, there’s no reason to wake up at 7 a.m. to hit the block parties. You can wait to go to the smaller ones that start around 12 or 2 p.m., and they may be spread out around the city, but they are definitely worth it because since there are block parties with 500 or maybe a thousand people, it all becomes more manageable, and within an hour you will start making new friends or even making out. With the large block parties, basically anything over 20,000 people, you’re just always searching for someone who’s better looking. After four hours, you realize that it was the first person you saw, but now that it’s too late, that person is gone.

If you show up too late to the block parties, you might bump into people who have been drinking for a long time, so they might be a lot more plastered and possibly aggressive than if you had shown up earlier. So don’t show up too late, but don’t show up too early.

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