But the samba schools were also modern: for the first time a man paraded with “Arranco” as the flag bearer in the sambodromo. The twelve best schools work until dawn on Sunday and Monday. Tens of thousands in the stands and millions in front of television in Brazil and around the world usually follow the parades on the huge catwalk designed by the famous Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer in the 1980s.
Rio Carnival is known as the “biggest party in the world”. The city expects to raise around 810 million euros, the tourism agency Riotur expects up to 5.5 million carnival people in the city. The hotels recorded an occupancy rate of 91.5 percent. Mayor Eduardo Paes opened this year’s carnival this Friday afternoon (local time) by handing over the key to the city to “King Momo”. After two years in which the pandemic prevented or restricted the party, Paes, who also advanced with corona vaccines aimed at carnival, said: “Thanks to science, thanks to medicine, thanks to the public health system and those who are vaccinated, we can go back to celebrating life by meeting at the Rio Carnival.”
In Brazil, the healthcare system collapsed at the height of the 2021 pandemic. Mayor Paes has canceled street carnivals for the past two years because of Corona. Only the parades at the Sambódromo took place after a postponement in April 2022. But now Carnival is back in full force. The city hall approved 445 parades of carnival groups – the so-called blocks – this season. In the afternoon, the first official “Blocos” like the traditional “Carmelitas” from the bohemian neighborhood of Santa Teresa paraded through the streets of Rio or played in the squares.
Tens of thousands of “cariocas”, as the cariocas are called, and tourists got into the carnival atmosphere last weekend with musicians and dancers in the streets of various parts of the city. It’s the middle of summer in the southern hemisphere and it’s particularly hot right now. The thermometer scored 41.8 degrees on Friday, the perceived temperature, which differs from the real one due to humidity or wind, was 53.8 degrees.
But Rio Carnival is also more than a sizzling party: following the assault on the government district in Brasilia on January 8, Mayor Paes proclaimed the “Carnival of Democracy”.
During the parades, each samba school takes the spectator into another world – usually a world where all is well. But there have also been political comments in recent years. For example, the winning school “Mangueira” 2020 criticized the Bolsonaro government.
The “blocos” always formed something like a carnival parallel to the strictly regulated parades in the sambodromo, in which a jury assigns marks as in figure skating. This year, however, they are also remarkably organized, given the enforced break they’ve had plenty of time to prepare. However, the “blocks” retained a lot of spontaneity and creativity. In Whatsapp groups, carnavalescos exchange information about where a “Bloco” currently is and which one will be next.