Celebrating the Rio de Janeiro carnival

Posted · 12th February 2015
Rio de Janeiro carnival

The World Famous Rio Carnival

Extra-terrestrial toucan birds, neon green spacemen waving Brazilian flags and legions of scantily clad folk dancing a furious samba – that’s right, it’s time for the Rio Carnival!

The world famous Rio Carnival is a wild five-day celebration and takes place from Friday 13th February to Tuesday 17th February, during the hottest month in the southern hemisphere. Perhaps the most famous pre-Lenten festival, it attracts more than 1.5m visitors. We’ve created a snapshot guide to the Rio de Janeiro carnival, as well as revealing our favourite Brazilian street food treats here in the UK.

Brazilian Spices

1. Brazilian street food: the carnival flavour

Mingling between the street dances and samba bands, carnival-goers gather outside little corner bars, enjoying the 50 delicious street food stalls that line the streets of Rio. From pastels to pao de queijo, Brazilian cuisine features a range of unique vegetarian recipes born from the nation’s indigenous flavours and heavily influenced by its European, Middle Eastern, Asian and African heritage.

We’ve selected some of our favourite Brazilian street food dishes to find out more – check out our map for more information

2. Samba Parades

It’s no accident that Rio is dubbed the carnival capital of the globe. The Rio carnival is the world’s most visited and its highlight is undoubtedly the Samba Parade or Samba Schools Parade, there’s no other event like it!

The Rio Samba Parade is the review of a fierce competition between the Rio samba schools. The judges and spectators watch the principal parades in the Sambodromo, which was built especially for this event.

Brazilian Carnival clothing styles

3. Carnival Balls

During the carnival, Rio plays host to a selection of Carnival Balls or parties which are not to be missed! A true Carnival Ball features live music, with percussion groups full of vigour, and Samba rules the floor. The most famous Carnival Ball is at the Scala nightclub in Rio, which is now in its 40th year.

4. Create carnival fever at home

Spicy food and even spicier outfits typify Brazil’s colourful carnival celebrations. Party-goers can’t resist the country’s most famous dish, feijoada, sliced meats accompanied by sides including rice, black beans and hot peppers. If you fancy recreating the sights, sounds and smells of Brazilian street food at home, here are six recipes for you to try, including; Bahian Moqueca with Tofu, Brazilian Coxhina with Tofu, Brazilian Inspired Bircher, Mexican Panuchos de Tofu, Pimiento relleno with tofu and quinoa and our vegetarian version of the famous feijoada


5. A taste of Brazil in Blighty

We’ve found a couple of street food vendors who are celebrating the flavours of South America back home, just in time for the best party in town!

Brazilian street food vendor, Guarana, offers a baked chewy pão de queijo and can be found at Whitecross Market, London.

For carnival celebrations in London, head to Covent Garden. The New London Theatre will play host to The Carnaval Do Gunabra with percussion bands, samba dancing sensational street food. Find out more and add some spice to February in the capital!


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