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By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Official Carnival dates this year are Friday, February 13th through Tuesday, February 17th, but in Rio the famous bloco street party-parades are already in full form. Of the 456 licensed blocos in the city, 111 are happening this weekend drawling all that are near into the revelry.

Carnival 2015, Céu na Terra bloco in Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Brazil News
Revelers gathered at 7AM this morning for the Céu na Terra bloco in Santa Teresa, photo by Alexandre Macieira/Riotur.

Traditional groups like Simpatia É Quase Amor and Céu Na Terra parade today (Saturday) and tomorrow the Bloco da Preta, which previously took place on Rio Branco Avenue in Centro, will happen for the first time on Avenida Presidente Vargas.

On the same day, the Suvaco do Cristo will bring a large crowd through the Jardim Botânico and in Lapa, the musical heart of Rio, there will be the noteworthy blocos Eu Amo A Lapa and Libertos do Arquivo. For a full list of blocos see O Globo’s interactive map as well as a mobile app, an essential tool to help plan how to get the most of the weekend celebrations (or avoid them).

Most of the authorized blocos this weekend are concentrated in the Zona Sul (South Zone) and Zona Norte (North Zone), where about thirty are to be held in each. Since 2012 the city has made an effort to distribute the blocos more evenly around the city, slowly moving more from Zona Sul to other areas.

This morning, celebrations started at 7AM, with the parade of Céu na Terra, in Santa Teresa. The gathering started at the Plaza Odylo and the parade marched along to the Largo das Neves. The bloco Imaginou? Agora Amassa will kick off swarming the streets of Leblon around 10AM, starting at Rua José Linhares. Another famous beachside bloco is Simpatia É Quase which is expected to draw about a hundred thousand people to Ipanema. The starting point is at 2PM on Teixeira de Melo Street, and the bloco path follows along Avenida Vieira Souto

In 2014, five million people partied in the streets of Rio on the days of Carnival of which 918,000 were estimated to be tourists. This year Rio’s tourism agency Riotur expects even more people, with a forecast of 977,000 visitors in the city. Organizers also plan to help curb the annual gripe of public urination, with 3,000 more mobile toilets to be made available this year, totaling 24,525 throughout the city.

All these bloco street parties are in contrast to the spectacular pageantry coming to the Sambódromo. The fifteen schools from the Série A will parade first on Friday, February 13th and then on Saturday, February 14th. The twelve schools from the Special Group will follow on Sunday, February 15th and Monday, February 16th.

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