By Vânia Maciel, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – December marks the beginning of the summer season in Rio, with temperatures going up and the city slowing down. Anticipation has already started to build for the festivities ahead which culminate in the big Sambódromo parade at the end of Carnival. For those not able to watch the main procession, or just can’t get enough, there are several options to enjoy a sample of samba school fever.

Unidos da Tijuca, champion 2010 Rio Carnival, photo by Creative Commons License.

Rehearsals for one of the biggest parties in the world are underway at samba schools’ practice courts or quadras as they are called, where every week each samba school fine tunes the drum orchestra, choreographs, and singing of the samba-enredo (theme tune), practicing their cohesion and harmony.

Most samba school quadras are located deep in Rio’s Zona Norte (North zone) but are accessible by cab, and a few are closer and easily reached from Zona Sul (South zone) like Salgueiro in Andaraí and Mangueira in Mangueira, and also São Clemente in Centro and Unidos da Tijuca in Santo Cristo, both at the heart of the city.

Also this year Beija-Flor of Nilópolis will hold some off-quadra rehearsals in Vivo Rio in Centro and Espaço Laduma in Jacarepaguá on Zona Oeste (West zone), all in order to facilitate access to participants, more information on dates are found on their site.

An unmissable option will be the technical rehearsals for samba schools of the Special and Access Groups. Held at the Sambódromo starting in January 2011, they will be the final rehearsals before Carnival where the full power of the parade will be experienced albeit stripped down of the glamor brought by lavishing costumes, props and floats of the main procession. The event is free of charge, and the public is welcome to join in a big party afterward down the main parade route with the participants.  The schedule is as follows:

January – 2011
January 9th – Sunday – Rocinha (7PM); São Clemente (8PM); Salgueiro (10PM)
January 15th – Saturday – Alegria da Zona Sul (7PM); Viradouro (8PM); Imperatriz (10PM)
January 16th – Sunday – Cubango (7PM), Mocidade (8PM), Unidos da Tijuca (10PM)
January 22nd – Saturday – Pilares (8PM); União da Ilha (10PM)
January 23rd – Sunday – Renascer (7PM), Grande Rio (8PM); Mangueira (10PM)
January 29th – Saturday – Porto da Pedra (8PM); Portela (10PM)
January 30th – Sunday – Santa Cruz (7PM); Beija-Flor (8PM); Vila Isabel (10PM)

February – 2011
February 6th – Sunday – Império Serrano (7PM); Império da Tijuca (8PM); Salgueiro (7PM)
February 12th – Saturday – São Clemente (8PM); União da Ilha (10PM)
February 13th – Sunday – Estácio (7PM); Mocidade (8PM); Mangueira (9PM)
February 19th – Saturday – Porto da Pedra (7PM); Portela (10PM)
February 20th – Sunday – Inocentes (7PM); Vila Isabel (8PM); Grande Rio (10PM)
February 26th – Saturday – Imperatriz (8PM); Beija-Flor (10PM)
February 27th – Sunday – Unidos da Tijuca (10PM)

Unidos da Tijuca in 2010 Rio Carnival, photo by Creative Commons License.

Visitors wishing for a more glamorous pre-season party can opt for the samba-show Forças da Natureza (Forces of Nature) which returns for a new season to the stage of Cidade do Samba (Samba’s City) in Gamboa, the purpose built complex housing all Special Group’s industrial workshops where all costume, floats and props are made.

Packed with a star-studded seventy member cast, taken from the best of all the Special Group samba schools, including passistas (specialized samba solo dancers), singers, mestre-salas and porta-bandeiras, musicians and highlights, the show is eco-themed to raise awareness to environmental issues. Its finale sees the cast and two floats parading around the Cidade do Samba square crowned by a fire-works display.

Tickets are R$190 including a buffet meal, discount entry is R$95 exclusively for Rio residents bringing proof of address, teachers, students and the senior citizens. There are only three more presentations planned for 2010 on the 1st, 9th and 16th of December at 8PM, and 2011’s program was yet to be announced at the time of writing.

Cidade do Samba – 60, Rua Rivadávia Correa, Port Zone
Access via Av. Rodrigues Alves, in front of the 11th Depot on Rio’s Harbor, large parking facilities available.
Info and bookings: (21) 2213-2503 and 2213-2546; and


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

nineteen − 3 =