Carnaval (o Mardi Gras) in Rio can be really crowded and, if you leave reservations and tickets to the last minute, you may miss out on the chance to have the party of your life.
First thing you need to know is that Carnival is like an industry: with people working all year round to make the magic happen. This is great for people who are travelling to Rio out of Carnival season, since they may have the chance to watch presentations at a samba school headquarters or even be lucky enough to attend a technical rehearsal at the Sambódromo (which usually take place in January).
But this is also an alert for people who want to spend Mardi Gras in Rio: it starts off early, and not only at the samba schools, the hospitality industry as well. As of October, there is already limited availability in best located hotels and hostels – so hurry! But be careful with a couple of things: Some of the cheapest hotels announced are actually motels – which in Brazil, different from the United States, are used by couples for a few hours only. That may not actually be a real problem for certain travellers, but be sure you note the difference and take a good look at the installations before booking, especially if you’re travelling with the family!
Also, make sure your hotel is in a good location! Rio is a really big city, but the main touristic parts are in Rio’s downtown and South Zone (Zona Sul). Even if you are looking for an authentic Rio experience, staying in the suburbs can complicate things if you want to move around freely, since public transportation is not so efficient in these areas, especially during Carnival, when a lot of streets are closed off for the Blocos. Also, carnival events usually take place downtown or in the South Zone, so being in these places you’re ensuring you’ll get the most out of your vacation in Rio.
So, believe us: book your place in Rio for Mardi Gras the earliest you can, keep reading our blog and like our page on Facebook. We will keep you up to date with the Carnival schedule and let you know when parade tickets go on sale.
Also, if you are travelling to Rio before it, have a taste of Carnival, watching a samba school rehearsal. From august onwards, they begin the process of choosing 2013 samba-enredo and there are parties every weekend at their headquarters. Also, you can watch an incredible show at Plataforma Samba.