Carnival in Rio de Janeiro goes far beyond the magnificent parades in the Sambadrome and the hundreds of street parties (blocos) that each attract a huge crowd of revelers. The Marvelous City, as it is known, is paralysed during this festive season with spectacular carnival events, some of the most popular of which are the Carnival Balls. Prepare your outlandish costume and join the party.
How the Carnival Balls Emerged
Legend has it that the wife of the Italian ambassador to Rio de Janeiro woke up one morning in 1840 with the desire to make a Carnival Ball in the classic Venetian style. Her dream was swiftly realised and the first event of its kind was held at the Teatro San Gennaro to much acclaim. Thousands of masked merrymakers attended the festivities and the concept soon grew in popularity across the city. Over time, lavish hotels and upmarket restaurants began hosting their own Masquerade Balls and they remain a significant part of the carnival experience.
The notion of these “VIP dances” arose because many of the venues would promote them for the attention of those in the upper classes of society. Today, however, not every Masquerade Ball is exclusive and if you want to have some fun away from the spotlight, there are several types of Rio Carnival Ball to enjoy.
The Main Rio Carnival Balls
The Magic Ball at the Copacabana Palace
Frequented by high society, artists and celebrities alike, the legendary Magic Ball at the Copacabana Palace is the highlight of the Carnival Balls program. Glamour and sophistication aplenty, the ticket prices for this event are extremely high and luxury costume or black tie/evening dress is mandatory.
This is one of biggest celebrations during Rio Carnival season: the LGBT community unites to create one spectacular party. Despite its name, this gathering is open to everybody and it attracts people from all over the world who welcome the opportunity to express themselves in outlandish costumes. To see dazzling personalities, local celebrities, and flamboyant dancing, this is the place to be.
Black Beads – Rio Scala Ball
A relative newcomer to the Carnival Ball circuit, this party is dedicated to popular street band Cordao do Bola Preta (Black Ball String), who have gained popularity through their bohemian styled music. Live performances are promised by famous sambistas Joao Roberto Kelly, Luiz Camillo and Dominguinhos.
Will you be in Rio de Janeiro for carnival this year? We enrich South American travel experiences.
By Luiza Cavalcante Edited by Simon Hall