Gay Carnival in Rio de Janeiro

Come for Carnival to experience Rio de Janeiro in full party mode. Tourists from all Brazilian states and all corners of the world join Cariocas to celebrate ‘The Greatest Show on Earth.’ The proportions are epic, and there’s much more to do and see during the four official days than anyone can handle.

In addition to all the mainstream events, many circuit parties cater specifically to the LGBTQ+ community. Add the Samba Parade, Street Celebrations, and off-Carnaval parties to your must-do list.

We will not discuss the mystery behind Carnival dates in detail. They change every year based on when Easter occurs in the Gregorian calendar. Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is the day before a Catholic holiday known as Ash Wednesday. Count back the days, starting on Friday or Saturday, and you’re all set.

Carnival season lasts about a month during the summer, usually in January and February. Pre-Carnaval includes the period starting two weeks ahead and ending one weekend after the official date. This is when the Champions’ Parade happens.

Rio Gay Carnival

At Carnival Balls, the formula includes a band playing live music, alternating with or playing with one or more star musical guests. Typically, the soundtrack features traditional songs, including ‘marchinhas’ that everyone can sing along to. Some of these songs date back to Carmen Miranda’s days. Of course, there are variations.

When street parades with music and performers were at their start, security was provided by Capoeira experts dressed up as Baianas. The cross-dressing was not associated with their orientation, yet it’s a curious anecdote. Baiana costumes are still a staple. 

As Carnival Balls became popular, Baile dos Enxutos offered an alternative to the distinct gentleman. Later, the Gala Gay at Canecão and Scala Gay in Leblon became cult events. Until recently, the Gay Costume Ball at Scala was broadcast live on Carnival Tuesday, and reporters surrounded the entrance.

Samba school designer Joãozinho Trinta was the first out of the closet back in the 80s. Nowadays, members of the LGBTQ+ community are present in the workshops, the samba runway, floats, bleachers, and deluxe boxes.

The luxury costume competitions that turned gay performers such as Clovis Bornay and Mauro Rosas into household names resist on top of floats, in impossible fabrications turned into Carnival art.

You are more than welcome to wear costumes at street parties. The proper attire helps get you into the mood, whether alone or with friends. This is the easiest way to have strangers approach you to take a photo. If you do not enjoy any kind of attention, wear plain clothes. It is rude to say no.

Rio Samba Parade

Get ready to witness the most extravagant event in Rio de Janeiro – the Carnival Samba Parade! The event features the Special Group Samba Schools, who bring thousands of members and mesmerizing floats to parade on Rua Marques de Sapucai, the samba runway.

The street is surrounded by Sambódromo, a concrete structure with bleacher seats and boxes, accommodating over 50,000 spectators on site. You could be one of them! The best-priced tickets are to bleacher seats, which are not numbered. Catered boxes often include drinks and other benefits in the total.

Enjoy the contagious samba steps performed by ordinary people in amazing costumes, and be the hypnotizing drumbeat of the percussion bands. Impossible floats will make you daydream, leaving you dumbfounded by their size and surprise features. The event is broadcast live to the whole country and abroad. Nothing compares to experiencing everything in person. Read more about The Samba Parade at our parent website.

Blocos and Street Festivities

Street festivities feature about 400 hundred blocos, each organized by a different group. If your spirits are high, you will feel welcome at any of them. There’s no fixed formula, yet in most cases, you will find a percussion band playing live to thousands of revelers. They may follow a route or remain stationary. You will feel welcome at any of them if you are in high spirits.

Megablocos gather as many as one million people, usually in Centro – the Downtown area. The Flamengo Park also accommodates more significant events. Botafogo, Flamengo, Gávea, Santa Teresa, Copacabana, Ipanema, and more areas host smaller parades. Some have themes attracting friends and like-minded parties. Others have decades of tradition. The choice is endless.

Balls & Off-Carnival Parties

At Carnival Balls, the formula includes a band playing live music, alternating with or playing with one or more star musical guests. Typically, the soundtrack features traditional songs, including ‘marchinhas’ that everyone can sing along to. Some of these songs date back to Carmen Miranda’s days. Of course, there are variations.

Circuit parties have such a strong presence in the gay community that you feel at home even when you are abroad. Famous labels seize the best dance halls to promote a dazzling sequence of parties that changes every year. You may even have a chance to dance to your favorite DJ. We are sure they would love to spin in Rio de Janeiro!

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