Carnival is Rio's main event. It happens at the peak of summer, when Cariocas are at their best. Festivities attract thousands of people from all corners of the world. Carnaval, as spelled in Portuguese, is a 4-day celebration. It starts on Saturday, and ends on Fat Tuesday, or Mardi-Gras. Carnival Sunday is seven weeks before Easter Sunday. Dates change every year. in 2010 it happens from February 13 through 16.
The world famous Rio de Janeiro Carnival has a history of over two centuries old. Rooted in both pagan and religious festivals, the carnival is celebrated during the four days previous to the beginning of Lent. The Rio Carnival has always been the main attraction amongst tourists. Despite all the carnivals that take place in Brazil, it is Rio that is known as the Carnival capital of the world.
The Rio Carnival, as we know it today, was born in an attempt to make the festivities more ‘’civilized’’ in the manner of European carnivals. Masks and rich costumes were introduced by the higher classes who paraded them up and down the city streets in their open carriages. The carnival also resembles parties with drinks, food and music that carries on throughout the day and into the early hours of the morning. People come out on to the streets and dance and sing, and all this finally concludes in what is known as the Samba Parade. People participating in the Samba parade are dressed in bright attires and Samba dancers perform the world famous Latin dance forms.
The carnival parade is filled with people and floats from various samba schools. A samba school can either be an actual school or just a collaboration of local neighbors that want to attend carnival. The purpose of carnival is for samba schools to compete with fellow rival schools; this competition is the climax of the whole carnival festival. Each school chooses a theme to try and portray in their entry.