By Ciara Long, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – With three weeks to go before Carnival 2017, official celebrations are finally kicking off in Rio this weekend. Sixteen blocos are due to take place between Friday, February 3rd and Sunday, February 5th, plus a number of unofficial blocos, as the city gets into the rhythm of Carnival celebrations.
Although blocos and rehearsals have been taking place across Rio in recent weeks, this weekend marks the beginning of official blocos throughout the city. According to the official Riotur list, February 3rd will see bloco parties from 6PM in Santo Cristo, Centro, from ‘Independente do Morro Pinto’, and from 7PM in Santa Teresa with ‘Badalo de Santa Teresa’.
Blocos officially scheduled for February 4th start from 3PM onwards. Bloco ‘Banda de Ipanema’ will take place in General Osório while ‘Larga a Onça, Alfredo!’ will be in Praça São Salvador at the same time. In Rio’s Centro area, ‘Eles que Digam’ also starts at 3PM, while ‘Liga de Blocos e Bandas da Zona Portuária’ is due to begin at 6PM from Saudé.
February 4th will also see a several blocos in Rio’s Zona Norte (North Zone) and Zona Oeste (West Zone), including ‘É Pequeno mas não amolece’ in Recreio. Favela Brass will be holding their second Carnival performance of 2017, this time in Arpoador from 5PM and ‘Barracão Centelha’ will also meet in the Museum of Modern Art’s (MAM) gardens during the afternoon.
Meanwhile, several unofficial blocos are due to take place throughout the city on Saturday 4th, including ‘Bloco EVA’ in Tijuca, ‘É tudo ou nada?!’ and ‘Ensaio Aberto do Carimbloco no Coreto Modernista’ in Flamengo.
Riotur lists five blocos for Sunday 5th, including ‘Só Caminha’ in Botafogo’s Largo dos Leões from midday and ‘Banda do Jiló’ from 2PM. Additionally, ‘Tambores de Olokun’ will spend their third Sunday evening rehearsing on Flamengo beach, Beatles-themes bloco ‘Sargento Pimenta‘ will perform at Vivo Rio and ‘Orquestra Voador’ will rehearse in the MAM gardens from 4PM.
“My favourite blocos are Agytoê, Sargento Pimenta, and Orquestra Voadora,” Kelly Tavares, Brazilian director of tourism company Rio Encantos, told The Rio Times. “The quality of the performances is astonishing.”
For Tavares, the cultural importance of blocos outside of the South Zone led her to create a bloco tour for visitors to the city. “Going beyond Ipanema, where the majority of tourists are, and coming to a historic setting where the first blocos took place in Brazil create a cultural exchange that is essential to contextualizing the Carnival experience,” she explained.
Adding, “It’s an added value to understand where you are, with whom you are, and what you’re part of in the magic!”