A Beginners Guide to Surviving Rio Carnival

Over the last few weeks, the epic party that is Carnival was pumping all over the ever energetic nation of Brazil. Think Sydney’s Mardi Gras on steroids (mainly the party, not the people). Each year there are millions of revelers, progressively bigger parties, traditional Brazilian dancing, colourful costumes galore, international music acts and a hell of a lot of pash-hungry people.

Yep, this annual event is considered the ultimate of carnival atmospheres for a reason; it’s Brazil and it’s their one chance a year to go exceptionally crazy.

Dawgs also let their freak flags fly.

Most cities around the country host their own celebrations, however it is the cities of Rio and Salvador that attract the most people and fanfare.
Huge seating stadiums and private parties line the streets to accommodate onlookers wanting to watch the always impressive parades; which 100% of the time feature ripped dudes and (naturally) large breasted women dancing up a storm. Meanwhile civilians (known as “popcorn”) follow and party on behind them. Some say it’s the “Greatest Show on Earth” and given its size and reputation, it’s rather hard to dispute such a tagline.

Hundreds of nationalities flock to Brazil to party endlessly for the better part of a week, dancing in the street till dawn, then starting all over again come dusk.
For the full five official days of the event everyone is your best friend (apart from the thousands of thieves) and if you’re lucky enough to experience it, Carnival will quite possibly be the best party you’ll ever encounter.

So if you are heading over to Rio Carnival, also known as the ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’, in 2014 or beyond here are five things you need to know before descending on the land of the passionate party:

Expect a pash, or seven, every night.

Whether it’s a positive or negative for you, don’t take this “Festival of the Flesh” slogan lightly. It goes something like this: see a hottie on the street, lock eyes, walk up, kiss them, give them a smile and walk off. Before you stop to ask yourself why life in Australia isn’t that easy, it’s because we have rights. But Brazil…hmmm yeah, as you’ve probably noticed, it’s not quite the same. Particularly if you’re a female; expect plenty of guys to be trying to execute this move on you. Exciting times.

In true love.

Theft is HUGE.

Included in the millions of revelers that party during Carnival, are the supremely poor individuals that often live in the close-by favelas, lining the outskirts of almost every Brazilian town. At every opportunity thieves will take anything of value from you so expect sticky fingers to be put in your pockets and certain goods (phones etc) to be snatched straight out of your hands. Don’t take anything but cash and be sure to hide it some place special. Bar tenders love when you pull your notes from your underpants anyway, especially when you are a guy.

Purchase a ‘camarote’ ticket.

Chances are if you have made it to Carnival you have already forked out a whole heap of cash just for your shitty bed in an 8 person dorm i.e $100 a night with a six night minimum booking. So why not spend more and pay up to party with rich locals and other travelers in your own private party? It includes free drinks and food is generally a lot safer and is a whole heap of fun.

The ‘cabins’ are covered, offer the best view of the avenue, have air conditioning, VIP treatment for guests, dinner buffet and free drinks served all night.

Females, wear anti-sexual harassment clothing.

Besides a whole heap of non-consensual, waist-and-above groping (whether girls are hooking up or not), it pays to protect all assets. Common practice amongst girls is to tape your shirt and bra to your chest (so it can’t be ripped off – yep, it happens), but most importantly, don’t wear mini shorts and DEFINITELY no skirts. Packs of guys have been known to surround girls and do their best to get their hands up underneath. Yeah, that’s illegal in Brazil too, but the chance of stopping it during Carnival is slim to none. Choose appropriate clothing or just wear a wet suit and hope that it will be enough of a deterrent. 

Also an option.

Probably don’t catch a wave at night.

So, you’re already wearing a wet suit, you’re staying in a hostel and you pick up. Where do you go for some privacy? Even if you found Mr/Ms right or Mr/Ms rightnow, the beach is NOT the place for you. Locals will tell you – never venture to any beach in Brazil after dark. Which is strange as, you will find that, the people at the beach during the daylight hours are always friendly, but then you will hear many stories of bashings or robberies on the sand at night. Probably save your skinny dip or schoolies-esque pass out nap for another country.

But mostly, enjoy!

For more info head to the Rio Carnival website.

Words by James Riordan – twitter / instagram: @jreards

Title image by Christophe Simon for Getty