What Are The Rio Carnival Balls?

Masked ball |©Jula Sarin/Flickr
Masked ball |©Jula Sarin/Flickr
Photo of Sarah Brown
9 February 2017

The Rio Carnival balls are some of the most extravagant events throughout the whole carnival period and range from outrageously liberal fun to more sophisticated, celebrity-filled nights. The balls happen at various venues dotted throughout the city and although not mandatory, dressing up in costume is all part of the fun.

To experience a different side of carnival, try going to one of Rio’s carnival balls. The themed events take place at several venues throughout the city and each one promises flamboyant costumes, contagious vibes and a crowd in full party mode. Whilst not mandatory, almost everyone will be in some sort of fancy dress; fancy dress and carnival are like synonyms, whether in the parades or at the balls.

Samba costumes | © Luiza Brunet/WikiCommons

Glammed up like the Oscars complete with expensive tuxedos and glamorous dresses gliding up a red carpet, the Magic Ball at the Copacabana Palace is the most extravagant and hottest ball in Rio. Attended by the movers and shakers of the business and celebrity world with past guests including Paris Hilton, Brigitte Bardot and Gerald Butler, it’s not a party for those on a low budget (or any kind of budget), and it is certainly one of those once-in-a-lifetimes events. The whole palace is decorated based on the chosen themes, with past ones including crystal, little leopards and butterflies. Extravagant yet luxurious costumes weave between the tuxedos and ball gowns, yet most guests choose to wear elegant masquerade masks.

Luckily, there are many other balls that are much more affordable, such as the Cordão do Bola Preta Carnival Ball. This ball is dedicated to the famous samba street band Cordão do Bola Preta and includes live performances during the event. The atmosphere is contagious as they sing the songs that almost every Brazilian knows, creating an air of happy nostalgia. The color theme is always black and white with costumes of white with black polka dots.

The Gay Gala Ball is always one of the most fabulous balls in Rio and is especially popular among the LGTB community in Rio. It attracts people from all over the world who come to enjoy this event that starts on Friday and continues until Sunday. Held on the final night of carnival, a pink carpet awaits guests who mingle with some of the world’s most famous drag queens that attract huge crowds. The costume style varies from flamboyant gowns to outfits that leave little to the imagination. This is one of the most fun, liberal and outrageous balls in Rio.

The Carnival Balls grew in popularity after the success of the first masked ball in Rio’s carnival in 1840, held by Clara Delmastro, the wife of the Italian Ambassador. Each year, the balls have become more frequent, more accessible and catering for more varied preferences and interests. To get tickets to one of these incredible balls that will make your carnival unforgettable, book in advance on the Carnival Balls website.