By Tricia L Chaves, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Anyone who grew up in the U.S. may remember celebrating their special birthday milestones with pizza and video games at Chuck E. Cheese, or a group skate at a roller rink followed by a Dairy Queen ice cream cake. If you were exceptionally fortunate (or of Latin-American heritage), you may have had a grand party to celebrate your sweet sixteen or quinceañera (15th birthday).
In Rio, to accommodate the often large groups of family and friends that gather for an aniversário (birthday) party, a Casa de Festas (house of parties) provides not only a solution for space but also an all-inclusive, all-ages good time. Because of the wide variety and competition, each is more spectacular than the next.
With monthly payment plans extended over a period of several months and basic packages starting at around R$1,000, a Casa de Festas experience should be at the top of every Rio resident or long-term visitor’s “Must Do List” regardless of your age!
From the base package, you can cater each aspect of the party to suit the size of your group, budget or imagination. A three-hour party for 50 guests, with soft drinks, hot dogs, mini pizzas, mini burgers, French fries, popcorn, cheese bread and ice cream would cost around R$2,000.
A typical Casa de Festas will have the same basic feel. Regardless of the particular venue’s size or extravagance, you should expect:
A Festive, Kid-Friendly Atmosphere:
Games and attractions like a giant ball pit, a foam pool, trampolines, mini golf, air hockey tables and indoor soccer fields. Sometimes even rides, like a motorized monorail running across the ceiling! All-ages fun includes a DJ, dance floors, 3D theater and LAN rooms with PCs. Foot washing areas and an entire tot-height restroom are some examples of how they have really thought of everything.
Unless the venue is large enough to hold multiple events separately and simultaneously, the space is completely exclusive for your event.
With a large party, expect to have a group of people “host” all facets of the event from start to finish. You’ll usually have a parking attendant, a door hostess to greet your guests, gift table attendants and a pair or more of people specifically interacting with and entertaining the kids. Food and drinks are hand-passed by servers.
Choose from a catalog with hundreds of options from animals to animated characters including branded favorites like the Disney princesses. You can select from simple themed centerpieces or create a visual confection with slip-covered chairs and giant life-sized replicas of your favorite character. Let’s not forget the edible confections either – elaborate cakes designed in the likeness of your choice. Check out these displays for Flamengo, Snow White and Betty Boop for some examples.
Arrive in a limousine, transform the space into a beauty salon for your pint-sized princess or have a craft-creating party (just a few examples).
To find a Casa de Festas near you, do a Google Search using the terms “Casa de Festas” along with the name of your neighborhood in Rio and you’ll find plenty of options to browse. An on-site photographer and/or videographer is often an optional add-on, so ask to see the venue’s portfolio to get an idea of how your party will look.
If you are not yet conversational in the local language it’s not a problem at Brincadeira é Coisa Séria (which translated means Play is a Serious Thing), according to party planner Cecelia Nascimento. Just give them a call and ask to speak with Cecelia for assistance in English or Portuguese.
This 2,500 square meter Casa de Festas has all-ages entertainment including indoor soccer fields and a foam pool, plus tons of choices in fabulous Brazilian finger foods called salgadinhos (little salty things).
Tricia Chaves lives in Rio de Janeiro and writes a blog called Move to Brazil with information in English about traveling, living and investing in Brazil, and writes about her daily life in Rio at Post Cards from Brasil.