Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – As Carnival reaches its second official day (Saturday, February 25th) of the 2017 season, Rio de Janeiro will host a full slate of blocos (street parties) spread across the city. Of the 451 officially licensed blocos for the year, there will be 75 today, starting at 8AM and some ending as late as 2AM.
Although an economic crisis in Brazil has lead to lower hotel occupancy, and a reduction in police presence (due to lack of payment) will certainly deter some, the city tourism officials are still expecting 1.1 million visitors for the five-day Carnival holiday weekend.
The day started off for many at 8AM with one of the most famous blocos, Céu na Terra in Santa Teresa. This early morning party draws an estimated 10,000 revelers through the narrow hilly streets of the iconic bohemian neighborhood. The starting point is at Largo dos Guimarães, and it ends at Largo do Curvelo.
Another equally famous bloco is the Cordão da Bola Preta which started at 9:30 AM in Centro. For this official opening bloco of Carnival, at least one million people are expected to attend, flooding Centro with locals from all over the city of Rio. The starting point is Rua Primeiro de Março, between Rua Buenos Aires and Rua do Rosário, and it ends at Av. Presidente Antonio Carlos and Rua Araújo Porto Alegre.
Back in Zona Sul (South Zone), at 5:30 PM the epic Banda de Ipanema should gather 90,000 revelers along the beach, and is another one of Rio’s biggest blocos of the Carnival season. The starting point is Praça General Osório, and then it parades down Avenida Vieira Souto, turns into Rua Joana Angélica and Rua Visconde de Pirajá.
For those looking for some familiar faces, the Blue Agave Bloco Party in Ipanema starts at 6PM, and is located in the eye of the Carnival storm at Rua Vinicius de Morais 68. American DJ Tee Cardaci will be spinning a range of disco-heavy international tunes, plus worldwide chart-toppers, funk, soul, and a selection of Brazilian classics.
Until Sunday (March 5th) there are 578 official Carnival bloco parades (many blocos parade more than once) in the city. The first bloco paraded on January 22nd.