By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Officials in Rio have announced yesterday (Thursday, January 11th) that there will be 28 new blocos authorized this year for Carnival. In total, 464 blocos will be approved, with 600 parades (some happen multiple times).
The number is slightly higher than the number of groups that had authorization in 2017, when 451 blocos were approved and held 578 parades.
However, the number of blocos that actually happen is much greater, as many happen without gaining the city’s authorization. The official list of the blocos has not yet been released as of the time of writing.
The president of the Tourism Company of the Municipality of Rio de Janeiro (Riotur), Marcelo Alves, spoke at a press event yesterday about the new regulations and strict enforcement on the unofficial blocos.
“This is a serious problem for us. We want rigor,” he said. “[If] we do not create a structure, the organizer will not have the logistics to ensure a secure event for revelers, so I am radically against it, the [blocos] can happen, but it has to be legal,” he added.
Regarding the possibility of the Municipal Guard repressing these blocks, Alves said that there will be no repression to the groups. “Repression, I do not say, but [they] will be notified.”
Adding, “Increasingly, through our project that was created, Rio Mais Legal [Rio More Legal], we will not allow anything that is illegal. The size of the city’s Carnival does not allow for it.”
This year, blocos that gather more than 200,000 people, the so-called megablocos, will not be allowed in the areas of Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon, only in the center of the city.
The restriction, however, does not include traditional blocos of the neighborhoods of Zona Sul (South Zone), such as the ‘Simpatia é Quase Amor’ and the ‘Banda de Ipanema’, that gather huge crowds in Ipanema.
In Barra da Tijuca, the city will remove the large blocos from Praia do Pepê, considering in 2017 they caused problems in the region.
These blocos will be transferred to the city center or to the Arena Carnaval Rio 2018, built in the Parque dos Atletas (Park of Athletes) by the sponsors of the Rio Carnival.
The arena is an effort by city hall to move more of Rio’s Carnival to Barra da Tijuca and increase the occupation of the neighborhood’s hotels. The space will have a capacity of 40,000 people, with free admission.
On stage, there will be presentations of famous blocos such as the ‘Cordão da Bola Preta’ and ‘Bangalafumenga’, as well as samba schools and singers.
A stage focused on children’s and family attractions will be set up on the Olympic Boulevard in Centro, and will feature blocos shows such as the ‘Gigantes da Lira’, which gathers children every year in Laranjeiras, in Zona Sul.
According to government officials another sixteen stages will be set up in different parts of the city and will have popular attractions.