By Chesney Hearst, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Pre-Carnival “bloco” festivities – the free, street party parades that represent Rio’s Carnival for the people – officially begin at Lapa’s Rua dos Arcos today (Sunday, January, 13th). Scheduled to perform are three blocos, Toque Tambor (Drum Touch), Céu Na Terra (Heaven on Earth) and Rio Maracatu.

Rio Maracatu at Arcos da Lapa 2012, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Rio Maracatu performing at Arcos da Lapa last year, photo by Publius Vergilius/ Riotur

Some 30,000 people are expected to be in attendance with groups assembling at the meeting point in front of the Fundição Progresso concert venue beginning at 4PM.

Toque Tambor, a United Kingdom based bloco, will go first, starting at 5PM. The group which hails from Hitchin, Hertfordshire is visiting the city as part of the “Rio Lapa Londres” project.

“After ten years of playing Brazilian Carnival music to the lovely people of Hertfordshire, we are finally taking a small band of drummers to Rio de Janeiro!” says Toque Tambor’s website.

“It is very interesting, them coming here because the Rio Maracatu has been touring Europe for years. This exchange is important, “Adriano Sampaio, one of the founders of Rio Maracatu, told O Globo.

Céu na Terra will follow Toque Tambor beginning their parade at 6PM and crossing under the famous Arcos da Lapa. Rio Maracatu is expected to take to a stage set up at the door of the Fundição Progresso at sunset. There they will preform with special guests, including 25 year-old Forró singer Mariana Mello.

Blocos are a group or street band traditionally formed by residents of the same neighborhood that parade through the city streets attracting large amounts followers and revelers both before and during the Carnival season.

The city of Rio authorized 492 bloco permits for this year’s Carnival marking a 15.76 percent increase in registered groups since last year.

Read more (in Portuguese).

* The Rio Times Daily Updates feature is offered to help keep you up-to-date with important news as it happens.


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