The 2013 Rio Carnival will be remembered for the many blocos and the fantastic samba school parades held in the Sambadrome.
A record number of Rio de Janeiro's famous "blocos" aka "blocos de rua” (Carnaval street parties) were held this year all over the great city. Permits for blocos increased 15% from 2012, with almost 500 held in the streets of Rio during the two week period leading up to Ash Wednesday. The majority of the blocos took place in the neighborhoods of the Zona Sul (South Zone), which includes Ipanema Beach, Copacabana Beach, and Leblon. It wasn't unusual for 75,000 or more revelers to turn out for the Carnaval street parties, and amazingly an estimated 1.8 million people attended the Cordão da Bola Preta bloco in Centro.
Rio's Carnival this year officially ended on Tuesday February 12th, but that didn't stop 500,000 partiers from going to the popular MonoBloco in Centro on Sunday February 17th! Since 2000, the Monobloco has been led by a large percussion band which plays updated versions of already-famous Samba Carnival songs. Such musical innovation keeps people coming to these blocos year after year.
The highlight of this annual pre-Lenten festival in Rio de Janeiro continues to be the huge parades held in the Sambadrome. As in past years, the parades were held on four nights over Carnival weekend with the winner announced on the following Tuesday. The top 6 samba schools returned to the Sambadrome the following Saturday to participate in the Champions Parade.
The samba school Unidos de Vila Isabel was declared the parade champion this year, with the theme of "Brazil - the world's bread basket". Their samba enredo (theme song) was a catchy updated version of a Carnival song from the 1950s, "Água no feijão que chegou mais um”, or "Add more water to the beans, one more person has arrived"!
The 2013 Top 6 Samba Schools were:
Above: Carnival dancer Sabrina Sota of the winning samba school Unidos de Vila Isabel
Above: paying homage to the standard bearer
Above: a rather striking image of a Carnival dancer in the Sambadrome!
Above: Belford Roxo aamba school parade queen (rainha)
Above: moments after this photo was snapped, this crazy contraption crashed into a TV camera tower...
Above: 2013 Rio Carnival parade champion Unidos de Vila Isabel's Armadillo float
Above: Unique and wild parade float
Above: Another wild float from samba school Unidos Belford Roxo
...and another from Unidos da Tijuca
Above: Samba school Salgueiro's enormous float - taking 80 minutes to pass thru the Sambadrome
Above: Unidos Vila Isabel's two headed sea monster float
Above: a samba school carnival muse... every young man's dream...
Above: revelers at the MonoBloco