By Leo Byrne, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Cidade Maravilhosa is revered for its effervescent nights during the hot summers (in the Southern Hemisphere), yet on December 31st the party spirit shifts up a gear and helps cement the city’s standing as one of the best locations in which to celebrate the Ano Novo (New Year).
Most prominent among the city’s parties, both in terms of scale and popularity, is the famous Reveillon celebration on the four kilometer Copacabana Beach.
The massive festivities are not for the faint-of-heart, as two million people descend on the sand to take advantage of free concerts dotted along the shoreline. As the New Year begins, those in attendance can expect a twenty minute firework show that lights up the sky over the bay.
“The party is beautiful and very safe. It’s for all ages and it doesn’t matter if you are in a hotel, apartment at the beach or on the sand. It’s fun everywhere,” says Marcelo Tesserolli from Rio Private Host, a company that organizes VIP tours of the city.
However partying with millions of other people can lead to a few logistical problems, subsequently some care should be taken before heading to the Copacabana neighborhood. “Wear comfortable shoes […] because you will be walking [a long time],” he added.
“Make sure to get to [Copacabana] in time, the subway will be running on a different scheme so you are only allowed a certain hour with your ticket. Buy them in advance. After 5PM there is practically no way to get to Copacabana by car,” Hakan Almerfors, from gringo-rio.com told The Rio Times.
Those looking for a less crowded, but still free, event should consider the rival party on Flamengo beach. Similar to its bigger brother on the Copacabana, revelers can enjoy live music and a spectacular firework display with the Pão de Açucar (Sugarloaf) as a backdrop.
In recent years the Sugarloaf itself has become a fashionable New Year’s Eve party destination. Revellers willing to spend some money can expect the retro-pop sound of Banda Soul de Quem Quiser, an open bar and the best views in Rio.
Those left standing in the morning can even enjoy breakfast whilst watching the first sunrise of 2013. Tickets should be bought as soon as possible as this popular event sells out quickly and sees prices increase as the New Year approaches.
Numerous options are also presented by beach-side hotels and restaurants, as well as clubs and other event venues across the city. The famous Copacabana Palace Hotel probably hosts the most exclusive event, offering a choice of restaurants in which to enjoy live music, food and open bars.
Rio’s popularity and rise in the cost of living over recent years has been pushing the price of such events to new heights however, with the tickets ranging from R$450 to R$1,600 and more. Many of the hotels also offer a New Year package in which the cost of the party is included, although they usually require a minimum stay of several nights.
For accommodations, as well as hotels and hostels, there is the option of temporary holiday apartment rentals, with luxury penthouses being available in all the city’s party hotspots. Frédéric Cockenpot of agency WhereInRio explains: “The best area is obviously Copacabana but it really worth it if you have a sea view to watch the fireworks. Otherwise, I would advise Ipanema which remains at a walking distance.”
However time is running out for this option as well as hotels and hostels, and Frédéric Cockenpot emphasizes, “Even more than Carnival, I would advise to book as soon as possible. First booking started already [last] June.”