Joining in one of Rio's Carnival Blocos (Banda) is a blast, and it can get pretty wild. It's also
an easy way for tourists to get involved in the Rio de Janeiro Carnival. There are several
excellent Blocos that take place in the Ipanema and Copacabana beach neighborhoods.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of locals and tourists attend Blocos during the 3
weeks leading up to Carnival, often instead of going to the parades in the Sambadrome. Neighborhood Blocos are considered by many to reflect the roots of the traditional Carnaval.
Some of the more popular Blocos in the Rio de Janeiro Carnaval are:
Banda Barbas (Beards) - In Botafogo on Carnaval Saturday. A firetruck sprays water to cool off the crowds.
Banda de Ipanema - At Praca General Osorio on both Saturdays. A wild affair that's mainly a drag queen parade. Cross dressing costumes are worn by Gays and Straights alike.
Bloco das Carmelitas - In Santa Teresa on Friday and Carnaval Tuesday. A huge parade in which many in the Banda dress as Carmelite Nuns.
Suvaco do Cristo (Christ's Armpit) - In Jardim Botanico on Sunday. A very popular Banda that draws thousands. Named after the neighborhood location, under the "armpit" of Christ the Redeemer Statute, that sits atop Corcovado Mountain.
Banda de Sa Ferreira - In Copacabana on Carnaval Sunday. This group parades along the ocean from Posto 1 to Posto 6.
Banda Simpatia e Quase Amor (Friendship & Almost Love) - in Ipanema on Carnaval Sunday. It's a huge Bloco, which attracts 14,000 or more people and starts at Praca General Osorio.
Bloco de Bip Bip - In Copacabana, this Banda starts off and ends Carnaval, on Saturday at 12:01am and again on Tuesday at 11:59pm. It's known for great music and signing, as it forms in front of the famous Samba Club Bip Bip.
Que Merda é Essa?! (What is this Shit?) - In Ipanema, 4pm, on Carnaval Sunday, starting at Rua Garcia D'ávila and Rua Nascimento Silva.
Se não quiser me dar, me empresta (If you won't give to me, then lend it !) - In Ipanema, 4pm on Carnaval Monday, starting at Avenida Vieira Souto at Rua Vinícius de Moraes. (on the beach).
Cordão da Bola Preta - In Centro on Carnival Saturday. This is one of the oldest Blocos in Rio de Janeiro, and draws an amazing crowd of as many as 2 million people. It starts early, at 9:30am...
O Sargento Pimenta (Sargent Pepper's) - in Arterro near Marina da Gloria on Carnival Saturday. A recent arrival to Rio's bloco scene, Sargent Pepper's is takeoff on the Beatles famous album. Reveler's dress in period costume and sing a repertoire of 13 Beatles' songs while marching along. Up to 70,000 people participate.
Calma Calma sua Piranha (Calm down Bitch) - one of the more raucus Carnival Blocos, held two Sunday's before Carnival weekend in Botafogo.
Céu da Terra (Heaven on Earth) - Santa Teresa's most popular bloco in which revelers dress in costume. An excellent instrumental band follows the banda (versus a sound truck as in some other blocos) playing accordions, saxophones, trumpets, tubas, agogôs (high pitched bells), ganzás (Brazilian percussion rattles), trombones, banjos and ukuleles.
Watch highlights of the 2011 Bloco "Me Esquece" (Forget Me!)
Carnival Blocos Invades the Santos Dumont Airport!