Carnival is one of the highlights about living in Brazil, from the costumes to the parties Brazil goes all out to celebrate. I have been to the Sambadromo to watch the incredible parade of floats for the last 3 years in a row, last year I had even had the privilege to actually be part of the parade (read more HERE). Clearly there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes year round for the samba schools to prepare for the main event. Visiting one of the samba schools and participating in the rehearsal is something everyone should do at least once! Among the larger schools that welcome visitors is Salgueiro and Mangueira. These schools have their headquarters just outside the center of the city and on scheduled nights, the community and visitors are invited to join in the fun and take part in the singing and dancing until the wee hours of the morning for R$40.
As you can see from the pink and green colors we went to Mangueira. Visiting a samba school is a great way to experience what everyone goes through to prepare for carnival. They hand out song sheets, people of all ages are dancing and singing, everyone is truly happy and you can tell they are enjoying every minute of it. The samba queens come out (above) and perform in the center of the dance floor (which is awesome cause you get to see their crazy sparkly costumes up close!) and then go up on the stage. The whole experience is very festive and you can’t help but smile and dance along.
All eyes are on the Sambadrome for the four nights of competition to watch the tens of thousands of participants strut their stuff down the runway. A few days after the winner is crowned preparations begin for the next year.