Mangueira Samba School has been crowned the grand champion of the 2016 Rio Carnival after totaling 269.80 points. Paying tribute to the 50-year career of the famous Brazilian pop singer Maria Bethânia, the green and pink laden school was last to parade in the Sambadrome on the second night of the extravagant event. Their winning parade explored Bethânia’s roots in the state of Bahia; a region with a strong African cultural influence that was born from the days of slavery.

mangueira campeã After the announcement, the Mangueira samba school partied into the night / Source

The new Director of Mangueira, Leandro Vieira, decided to delve into the religious side of the singer as inspiration for the show. The Comissão de Frente (Front Commission) was comprised of 15 dancers of African heritage adorned in costumes representing the orixás Oyá and Oxum, both Candomblé figures that are significant to Maria Bethânia.

A number of famous Brazilian singers and actors participated in the procession: Adriana Calcanhoto, Ana Carolina, Regina Casé, Chico César, Zélia Duncan, Vanessa da Mata, Renata Sorah and Lúcia Veríssimo joined Maria Bethânia herself on the stage. Other highlights of the show came in the form of a spectacular float with a giant Carcará, the name of a bird and popular song by Bethânia. Mangueira, founded in 1928 in an area located near to the Maracanã neighbourhood, had not won the competition since 2002, yet it now has 18 titles, second only to Portela who have 21.

mangueira vencedora The announcement was celebrated in the home of Mangueira Samba School / Source

Results of the 2016 Rio Carnival:

1° - Mangueira
2° - Unidos da Tijuca
3° - Portela
4° - Salgueiro
5° - Beija-Flor
6° - Imperatriz Leopoldinense

The 2016 champion will perform again this coming Saturday – 13th February – together with the other five samba schools who came in the top six in the traditional end of Carnival Champions’ Parade.

This festive season in Rio de Janeiro offers an unrivalled display of noise, colour, and happiness, yet the self-proclaimed Marvellous City has so much more. We enrich South American travel experiences.


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By Luiza Cavalcante Translated by Simon Hall