By Michela DellaMonica, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL — The holiday season is picking up steam which means plans are already coming together for the 2014 Carnival festivities, with the official dates of February 28th to March 4th this year. The major samba schools have announced their Enredo (Theme) as well as named their Rainha de Bateria (Queen of the Drums), and music and costume design has long been underway for Brazil’s biggest party of the year.
The Carnival weekend schedule at the Sambódromo has the Grupo de Acesso (Access Group) parading on Friday, February 28th and Saturday, March 1st, while the premier-class Grupo Especial (Special Group) will perform on Sunday, March 2nd and Monday, March 3rd.
The ever important Bloco (street parties) schedule has not been announced yet and is expected to be made public in mid-January. Last year the city authorized permits for 492 blocos, adding 67 more than in 2012, however moving more out of Zona Sul (South Zone) in an effort to spread the celebrations across the city more evenly.
For the Special Group samba school competition, last year’s champions Vila Isabel will have television personality Sabrina Sato lead the way again as the Rainha de Bateria, with the theme, “Retratos de um Brasil Plural” (Portraits of Biodiversity in Brazil).
The other Rainhas de Bateria showcasing the rhythm of their samba schools are Viviane Araújo dancing for the second time for Salgueiro; Christiane Torloni for Grande Rio, a finalist in last year’s competition; Ana Paula Evangelista for Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel; Cris Vianna for Imperatriz Leopoldinense.
Also the enchanting actress Juliana Alves will lead Unidos da Tijuca; Laynara Teles for Império da Tijuca; Raphaela Gomes for São Clemente; Evelin, for Mangueira; Rayssa Oliveira for Beija-Flor, 2013’s runner up; Bruna Bruno for União da Ilha do Governador and finally Patricia Nery for Portela.
Carnival 2011 champions, Beija-Flor, one of the most popular samba schools in Rio, will honor the former director general of TV Globo José Bonifacio Sobrinho, “the Boni,” as well as the history of Brazilian television.
Also Grande Rio, a finalist in last year’s festivities with their semi-controversial theme examining Brazil’s oil industry, chose this year to showcase the history of Maricá, a city outside Rio.
The “Rei Momo e Rainha,” or King Momo and Carnival Queen, have been chosen, and the key to the Cidade de Samba (Samba City) will be given to Rei Momo Wilson Dias da Costa on February 28th, marking the beginning of Carnival festivities followed by parades from the Grupo Acesso division.
On March 4th, Fat Tuesday, the parade for Escolas de Samba Mirins, the next generation of the Grupo Especial, and the Banda de Ipanema bloco group will take place at the Sambódromo. The finalists will have one last chance to show off their floats and sambas at the Desfile das Campeãs (Champions Parade), which will take place on Saturday March 8th.