Your Guide to Rio Carnival 2016

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Each year, Rio Carnival draws in half a million revellers, celebrating the beginning of the Easter period with raucous parades and Carioca-style street parties.

Taking place from February 5-10, these events will seduce you from the sidelines.

The Samba Parades at Sambódromo

Arguably the most recognisable part of Carnival are the Samba parades, which fill the streets of downtown Rio with colourful choreography, loud music and even louder costumes. Samba parades take place every night during Carnival but the largest event is the competition between the First League Samba Schools on Saturday and Sunday night. With more than 1000 dancers in each team, the Samba parades should not be missed. The party kicks off at 9pm and continues until 4am.

Rio Carnival balls

During the festival, thematic Rio Carnival balls take place at different venues throughout the city. The grandest and most famous of the balls are hosted at the Scala Nightclub every night of Carnival, and VIP tickets include unlimited alcoholic drinks and a buffet. The theme changes daily, and includes the Black Beads Balls (dedicated to the carnival street band Cordão do Bola Preta), the traditional Marvelous City Ball and the flamboyant Gay Gala, which is broadcasted throughout Brazil.

Bloco Street Parties

Both impromptu and organised street parties, or blocos, pop up in Rio throughout Carnival. With more than 500 official blocos, the open-air parties held at Cinelândia square (February 5-9 from 5pm) are by far the biggest. Partygoers dance to the sound of live orchestras and renowned Brazilian musicians, well after the Samba parades finish.

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