Brazil's most famous event is Carnival, beginning at midnight on the Friday before Ash Wednesday
and lasting for five days.
Carnaval is celebrated all over Brazil and there are more authentic versions than the glitzy tourist
drawcard held in Rio de Janeiro, but Rio's is a fantastic spectacle nonetheless. In the sambódromo, a tiered
street designed for samba parades, the Brazilians harness sweat, noise and mayhem as the 16
top samba schools each have their hour of glory.
Carnival can be smelt and breathed in the air of Brazil. Everywhere you look at Carnival time you
can see a Carnival smile, you can hear a Carnival samba beat and you can feel the Carnival spirit.
Each city in Brazil has a unique Carnival experience. In Rio, the samba schools are the main
attraction. In Bahia, it is apparently completely different, with the emphasis on music. But no matter
where you are for Carnival you are bound to be seduced and liberated by the Carnaval spirit.
Carnival started as a pagan celebration in either Rome or Greece. The Carnaval balls were then
imported from Italy in the late nineteenth century, and had their 'golden era' in the thirties with
legendary balls at the Copacabana Palace Hotel.
The famous Samba Parade in Rio de Janeiro had also started in the thirties, but it wasn't until
1984 that it found its home in Rio at the Sambodromo. Why is it so special? Why does the whole of
Brazil stop for it? See more and you will know...