Carnival in Rio de Janeiro 2015 falls between Friday, February 13th and Wednesday, February 18th and is an unforgettable event you have to experience at least once in your lifetime. This world-famous festival is considered THE biggest carnival in the world and consists of parades, street parties and balls, with over two million people per day filling the streets of Rio in a celebration of dancing and music. Picture you and your friends partying for five days straight amid crowds of locals and tourists alike, all looking to have a great time!

The main event is the official parade which is made up of more than 200 floats and adornments from various samba schools. A samba school is a collaboration of local neighbors who share a geographical background and compete at the parade as a dance group. The parade is held in the Sambadrome, a lively exhibition space with tiered spectator viewing areas filled with thunderous fans who cheer and clap for their favorite school as they parade down the long alley. On Friday and Saturday, schools in the Access Group fiercely compete for a shot at placing in the Special Group, which will perform in Sunday and Monday’s parades and consist of the best samba schools in Rio. The Champion’s Parade will take place on the following Saturday, February 21st and is formed by the winning samba school and five runner-ups for the ultimate performance. Tickets to attend the parade at the Sambadrome start at around $50 USD for grandstand seating, and they sell fast!
Aside from the official parade, the abundant number of street festivals are free to attend and truly demonstrate the lively culture of Rio’s inhabitants. Visitors are welcome to participate in the fun and join in with the Brazilians in dancing in the streets during the block parties. There’s no better way to learn the traditional Brazilian dance, the samba (batucada), than being taught by locals. This faced-paced, rhythmic dance will leave you laughing and out of breath as you try to keep up with the Brazilians dancing their hearts out. Some of the largest and most famous street parties include Cinelândia Square in Riocentro and Banda de Ipanema, Simpatia e Quase Amor and Volta Alice in Zona Sul. According to police records, there are zero or very few incidents of reported crime each year during these dances, so attending them is safe even amongst the excitement.

If you still can’t get enough dancing, you can also attend one of 300 balls and costume parties held annually during Carnival. Catch a glimpse of your favorite celebrities and movie stars at the Magic Ball held at the Copacabana Palace on Saturday, February 14th, which is considered the most glamorous party in Rio. There are other, less expensive balls held at the Rio Scala Nightclub throughout Carnival for those looking for alternative options to this elite event, the Mangueira Ball being the most affordable. Dress requirements are black tie, gala dress or luxury costume—now’s your chance to wear that tuxedo or gown you’ve been saving for a special occasion!

One of the cheapest ways to get to Rio de Janeiro is by booking your flight through StudentUniverse. Right now we’re offering low fares on Latin American flights, in addition to an organized group tour of the Carnival experience. With such a variety of events, the festival offers a little something for everyone. Carnival is less than TWO WEEKS away, don’t miss out on all the fun!

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    About Danielle Dougan