The Ultimate Local’s Guide to Street Parties at Rio Carnival

Rio Carnival
Rio Carnival | © Agencia Brasil / Alamy Stock Photo
Sarah Brown

The official Rio de Janeiro carnival runs for about a week starting in late February or early March. During this festive time, the city pulses with hundreds of street parties as the carnival spirit happily takes over. Here are some of the events locals like to attend during Rio’s carnival.


The Sambódromo is the most important venue of carnival, as it plays host to the famous carnival parades. Here, Rio’s best samba schools present a year’s worth of preparation in a spectacular performance of extravagant costumes, jaw-dropping floats and spellbinding dances. Each school strives to be crowned winner by a panel of judges. Considered the quintessential carnival experience, the Sambódromo tends to be more popular with tourists than the locals – who prefer to go to the blocos (street parties) – yet it is one of the best spots to embrace the larger-than-life atmosphere and see what the hype is all about.

The traditional carnival parade is held at the Sambódromo Marquês de Sapucaí


Costumes are highly encouraged at the blocos
Carnival spirit takes over the streets throughout Rio

Santa Teresa

The key appeals of Santa Teresa are its bohemian vibe and artistic flair, reflected in the blocos that slowly weave through the winding streets of this captivating neighborhood. The blocos here hold a special place in many Cariocas’ (residents of Rio) hearts and it attracts a fun-loving, friendly crowd. Check out the bloco Carmelitas, which is themed around the story of a nun who allegedly jumped over the convent’s walls to join in the carnival mayhem, and has led to people wearing colored veils during the party in honor of the escaped nun. One of the most popular blocos is Céu na Terra, which uses brightly colored costumes and large puppets throughout its festivities.

Santa Theresa neighborhood bloco is perfect for the bohemian at heart
A whole host of musicians lend their talents to the festivities

Ipanema and Leblon

While these are two distinct neighborhoods, during carnival the two often blend together as blocos spill over from one area into the next. Banda de Ipanema stays within Ipanema, trailing the streets near the beach. It is one of the most liberal blocos with a wide-ranging mix of partygoers from families to elaborately dressed drag queens. There are dozens of other blocos in these two neighborhoods that take place every day of carnival. Two of the other biggest and most popular are Que Merda é Essa?! and Simpatia é Quase Amor – but even the small, spontaneous blocos in Ipanema and Leblon are worth attending for their fun spirit and friendly crowd.

Jardim Botânico

For quieter blocos that still pack in a lively atmosphere but without the large crowds, head to the Jardim Botânico neighborhood. The blocos course through the leafy streets of the area and tend to attract a younger, much smaller crowd, offering a welcome break from the boisterous and heaving crowds in other regions of the city. There are small blocos that pop up every day and are easy to find; just listen out for the music or groups of people in fancy dress. One of the most popular in this neighborhood is Suvaco do Cristo, a low-key street party that draws in a bohemian crowd.

The Jardim Botânico neighborhood attracts a younger, smaller crowd
Street performers entertain the crowds Lucas Dumphreys /
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article