By Karen Shishiptorova, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – With only three months until December 31, it´s time to plan for New Year or Réveillon (pronounced Hey-vey-on) as Cariocas call it, borrowing from the French.
This is the first of a three-part report, highlighting some of the options around Rio de Janeiro. This installment focuses on free or relatively affordable options.
For starters, Cariocas like to dress in white, preferably in new clothes purchased especially for the occasion. The color is both a symbol of peace and an Afro-religious tradition, part of which entails offering flowers to Iemanjá, the ocean deity. Street vendors dot the city supplying the demand.
Part of the Réveillon mystique includes jumping seven waves, eating seven or twelve grapes, and a bowl of lentils – all to bring good luck in the coming year. Wearing new pink underwear attracts love, red brings passion, while yellow draws money.
As they gear up for the party, Cariocas´ renowned good spirits expand even further. The beach becomes a patchwork of people dressed in white, covering nearly all tribes, ages, elasticities and nationalities.
Street vendors supply drinks and food, yet, most people bring their own bottle of champagne to pop at midnight and yes, you will get sprayed.
There will be many people barefoot on the sand, but it is best to keep your feet protected for obvious reasons. Paramedics are available, dealing mostly with stomach or alcohol related problems.
Copacabana Beach – where it all began – remains the main attraction, hands down, where city officials expect two million people. With a budget of U$5 Million, live shows spread over five stages showcasing a mix of artists and genres, beginning at 10AM on the 31st and ending at 3AM next day.
Rumor has it Beyonce is to be the main attraction, but so far, nothing has been confirmed. Eight barges strategically placed along the shore will carry the fireworks, an unforgettable marvel for all senses lasting nearly half an hour.
“There are a few surprises ahead. We called Scott Givens,” said City Mayor Eduardo Paes. Mr. Givens was in charge of the opening ceremonies of the Pan-American Games 2007 and the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games.
In a joint effort, the biggest Barra hotels will display fireworks from their rooftops. At Lagoa a floating stage will host a yet to be announced international attraction.
Car access to the beach and nearby streets is blocked within the first hours of the big day, and bus service is restricted. Options are to arrive at either two end stretches of Copacabana; Ipanema or Leme and walk to Copacabana.
Many make it an all-day event, bringing food, coolers, beach chairs and folding tables, staying until well after midnight.
Ipanema attracts a young crowd with electronic music and hip DJs. However, this is yet to be confirmed since last year the police had it cancelled due to personnel shortage.
Nothing is scheduled for Leblon which is sought out by families, larger groups and couples who set up camp for private fun. This setting is more appropriate for kids along with Lagoa, which is also a family favorite with a reduced fireworks edition, where the world´s biggest Christmas tree floats on the water.
The stroller and toddler troupe will find Lagoa a perfect setting, since it´s nothing like the Copacabana craze, but still fun.
This year, Flamengo Beach will also host a party with fireworks starting at 8PM with DJs and live music as of 10PM. On a lesser scale, fireworks will also take place at Barra da Tijuca Beach, Ilha do Governador at Bica Beach, Piscinão de Ramos, Penha at the Penha Church, Nova Iguaçú at Via Light and Paquetá at Moreninha Beach.
Nearly all beach and Lagoa kiosks offer private entertainment for a fixed price. At Copacabana the guest seating area around the newly remodeled kiosks is protected by ropes.
Seats should be reserved, and paid for, at least two weeks in advance. Prices range between R$100 and R$600 per person. Such deals usually include two hot entrees and a bottle of champagne per couple at midnight.
Official numbers are not in yet, but last year an army of nearly 15,000 police officers, 3,000 firemen and 164 ambulances were on duty for the countdown.
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