By Fiona Hurrell, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – February marks the month of 2013 Carnival and the party blocos (street party-parades) are already going into overdrive as more and more visitors arrive in Rio. With 492 blocos to look forward to this year, here are just a few of the largest to check out.
Boêmios da Lapa, a bloco in the party region of Lapa, will take place on Friday, February 8th, from 8PM until 11PM. This bloco epitomizes the bohemian district of Lapa in which it is set so expect a huge crowd made up of residents and travelers. The scene is very informal but with a distinctive party vibe and bars are open late as usual for anyone wishing to carry on through the night.
Cordão da Bola Preta, on Saturday, February 9th, has a strong following and is perhaps one of the most famous of the Centro district blocos. Beginning on Avenida Rio Branco, in the City’s business area of downtown, this bloco, which celebrates its 95th anniversary this year, will travel to Lapa before looping back to its original meeting point. Taking place every Saturday during Carnival, this bloco attracts an estimated two million people, going on from 9AM until 2PM.
Dois Pra Lá Dois Pra Cá on Saturday, February 9th, is one of the busiest blocos which begins in Botafogo and finishes in front of the Copacabana Palace hotel on the beachfront. Playing a rich mix of samba, this bloco is always a hit with residents and tourists alike, covering some good ground through the surrounding streets. The bloco starts on Rua Álvaro Ramos at 10AM and finishes at 2PM.
O Baile Infantil da Banda de Ipanema, on the same day, is a bloco specifically for children and adults are only permitted when accompanying children ensuring that this bloco remains calm and safe. Situated in the Praça General Osório, this bloco is stationary with music and activities to entice little ones in to the Carnival spirit as much as the adults.
Simpatia é Quase Amor on Sunday, February 10th, is a continually popular beach-side bloco in Zona Sul (South Zone), gathering thousands of revelers at Praça General Osório to process down the beachfront of Ipanema. Created in 1985, this Ipanema bloco has become so established it creates a new theme song each year and sells T-Shirts to go with it. Despite this, the bloco is very casual and everyone is invited to join whether in costume or not.
Banda Atlantica situated on the beachfront of Copacabana on Avenida Atlantica is equally popular not only for its location but because it doesn’t travel around the streets like other blocos, thus appealing to those who may prefer to stay in the same spot. Expect a young crowd wearing anything from fancy dress to beach attire. The bloco will take place on Monday, February 11th, from 6PM till 10PM.
Banda de Ipanema on Tuesday, February 12th, is one of the largest blocos in Rio and the majority of revelers will be in serious costume. First started in 1965 during military dictatorship, this long running bloco is credited for reviving the street parades which Rio carnival has become famous for. It is also very popular with the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender) community and is frequented by a number of colorful drag queens. The procession starts at 5:30 PM from Rua Gomes Carneiro and will eventually finish at Praça General Osório at 9:30 PM.