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By Marie Naudascher and Marcelo Duailibe, Contributing Reporters

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – More than ever, during the hot summer months, the Cidade Maravilhosa is the place to enjoy good music, and the good news is this time of year many music events are free to attend. Following are a few regular events to look out for and keep on the calendar in January, including some of the early Carnival Blocos.

The Pedra do Sal square regularly packs out for the Monday night samba, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
The Pedra do Sal square regularly packs out for the Monday night samba, photo by Felicity Clarke.

Pedra do Sal, every Monday, from 7PM to Midnight
Before Carnival is in full force, those who can’t get enough samba should go back to the basics, and spend a night at the Pedra do Sal, a historical place for sambistas located in Gamboa.

Considered the center of the area known as “Little Africa”, that was full of collective houses of escaped and freed slaves, it has become a popular place to have a beer with friends in an open-air friendly place. It has become so popular that sometimes, it is difficult to hear the music, but it remains a marvelous place to feel the Carioca spirit.

Praça Edmundo Bitencourt, every last Sunday of the month, from 11AM to 3PM
Tucked in the back of Copacabana, a group of musicians play in a very friendly and intimate atmosphere. They play choro or chorinho, a traditional Brazilian music which was born in the streets of Rio at the end of the Nineteenth century. Many go with children, since there is a small park with swings, and of course there are beers and plenty to eat. Everyone shares food, happiness and passion for music.

bloco santa teresa, Carnival, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
One of the many free-joining Blocos in Santa Teresa - although the Bonde tram will not be in operation this year, image recreation.

In a category all by themselves are the Carnival blocos, which start in full force in February, but there are a few great ones starting in January to look out for.

Blocos are Carnival-style samba bands that parade and play on the streets, usually comprising of a bateria (drum procession), a sound truck, and anything from flags in specific colors to the craziest of costumes that give them their unique characters.

Bloco Boca Maldita, Copacabana, January 20th, 3PM
Starting at Praça Demétrio Ribeiro, on the Leme side of Copacabana, this is a celebration of the São Sebastião holiday. The gathering point is at the corner of Barata Ribeiro and Princesa Isabel.

Bloco Aconteceu, Santa Teresa, January 21st, 6PM
At Rua Áurea, people will join writers and artists who live in Santa Teresa to follow this Bloco, famous to take pwople around the place known for seducing for its charm and its architectural and cultural riches. Everything that exists and is known about Santa Teresa is also a bit about the history of Rio.

Bloco Banda de Ipanema, every Sunday starting January 21st, 3PM
Partiers concentrate at General Osório Square for this Bloco founded in 1964. It’s considered one of the most democratic in Rio and manages to drag through the streets of Ipanema people of all ages and social classes, in addition to countless drag queens.

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