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By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Carnival street parties known as blocos are back in Rio this weekend with the Abertura não oficial do Carnaval do Rio de Janeiro (the unofficial opening of Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival) taking place on Saturday January 3rd at Praça XV and the blocos Céu na Terra and Rio Maracatu parading and performing as part of Fundição Progresso’s 10th National Marchinhas (a style of Carnival song) Competition to be held in Lapa on Sunday, January 4th.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News, Brazil, Fundição Progresso, Concurso Nacional de Marchinhas, Céu na Terra, Rio Maracatu, Blocos,  Praça XV, Lapa, Cordão do Boi Tolo, Marchinhas , Carnival 2015
Bloco parade in Lapa, photo courtesy of Fundição Progresso.

First on Saturday, the Abertura do Carnaval Não Oficial, an event consisting of several blocos meeting to parade, will begin at 11AM. Tamborim Sensação, a forty member group lead by Mestre Polinho, will start the day with a performance in Praça XV.

The Bloco do Rock will play at 1PM in front of the Arco dos Teles and Batuquebato will perform at 2PM near the same location. Also at 2PM, the group Frevo Prato Misterioso, complete with an orchestra and dancers, will bring the sounds of frevo to the Rua do Mercado.

At 3PM, Cordão do Prata Preta will meet on Rua do Mercado to parade with Cordão do Boi Tolo, one of Rio’s more popular blocos. The group will then make their way across Praça XV towards Morro do Castelo, ascending the Ladeira da Misericórdia as they parade.

The event is open and free to the public and promises to be a lively celebration. Also free and open to the public will be Fundição Progresso’s 10th National Marchinhas Competiton held on Sunday, January 4th. Part of the the official year-long celebration of Rio de Janeiro’s 450th anniversary, Sunday’s event will feature the blocos Céu na Terra and Rio Maracatu performing live to open the Lapa street Carnival season.

 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News, Brazil, Fundição Progresso, Concurso Nacional de Marchinhas, Céu na Terra, Rio Maracatu, Blocos,  Praça XV, Lapa, Cordão do Boi Tolo, Marchinhas , Carnival 2015
The Céu na Terra bloco will perform on Sunday, January 4th in Lapa as part of Fundição Progresso’s 10th National Marchinhas Competiton event, photo by Paprica Fotografia/courtesy of Fundição Progresso.

Both blocos will begin at 5PM, with Céu na Terra starting from Rua do Lavradio and Rio Maracatu beginning at Praça dos Arcos da Lapa, in front of the landmark Lapa Arches.

For the song competition portion of the event, composers throughout Brazil submitted marchinhas. Also known as “marchinha de carnaval” or “marchinha carnavalesca,” marchinhas are a type of samba song used throughtout Carnival celebrations.

From the 1,339 submissions received for this edition, judges selected ten semi-finalists. The public will be able to participate in the grande finale by voting during a live broadcast of the Fantástico program.

Following the bloco performances on Sunday, Fundição Progresso’s Marchinhas Competiton will include two additional events before Carnvial celebrations officially begin on Friday, February 13th. On Sunday, January 18th there will be a semi-final baile (party) to launch the album, As melhores marchinhas do carnaval 2015 (The Best Carnival Marches 2015) and a final baile on Sunday, February 1st.

Bloco street parties, which began in Rio almost a month ago on December 12th, will be held throughout the official Carnival celebrations and continue after until March 9th. For a complete list of upcoming blocos see here and continue to check The Rio Times for more information about blocos.

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