Carnival, New Year’s Eve and Important Holidays in Rio de Janeiro

Torryn_NYE_2013Get to know important info about holidays in Rio de Janeiro such as Carnival and New Year’s Eve with this useful guide.

There are a number of important public holidays in Brazil. Most public holidays are observed nationwide, but each state and city may have its own holidays as well.

They range from the big (New Year’s Eve, Carnival) to the small, such as Children’s Day.

Here are the most important public holidays where most shops and businesses will close:

1 January, New Year’s Day
1 May, Labor Day
7 September, Independência (Independence Day), Proclamation of Independence against Portugal
15 November, Proclamação da República (Republic Day), Proclamation of the Republic
25 December, Natal (Christmas)

Get the best info about what to do or where to go for these events below…

Réveillon (New Year’s Eve)

Jan 1st officially marks the beginning of the summer holidays, which last until Carnival. Traditionally, people in Rio de Janeiro flock to the beach for midnight as part of the huge celebrations.

Where to Go
The party is at the beach! It doesn’t matter which one, but Copacabana beach is the most popular destination, with literally millions of people descending on the neighborhood for the seeing-in of the new year.

What to Wear
Almost everybody dresses all in white, which symbolises a hope for good luck and peace for the coming year. Other colors are worn, with yellow signifying a hope for money and so on, but white is by far the predominant color. It’s not a problem if you don’t have white, just avoid wearing any dark colours.

What You’ll See
Fireworks! The beach at Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro is ranked among the top 10 New Year Fireworks display in the world. There are live concerts with various stages along the beach. Though insanely busy, the Copacabana’s New Year’s party one of the best in the world.

Many people will be offering gifts to the sea such as flowers, which are given to the African diety Iemanjá. The mix of Catholcism and Afro-Brazilian religious practices are never more evident than on Dec 31st as thousands of people throw flowers into the waves and make shrines on the beach from candles and other items. Some people even float their gifts into the sea on small wooden boats.

2-4-2013 Bloco


Carnaval in Brazil is an annual nationwide festival in Brazil, celebrated differently in each part of the country. Celebrations and parties will take place over a few weeks, but the main parades run over a period of four days: Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.

Carnival is one of the biggest events of the year with almost all business (except bars/restaurants and some markets) closing for around a week. Rio de Janeiro’s carnival alone drew 4.9 million people in 2011, with 400,000 being foreigners

Where to Go
The Sambódromo is where the famous samba school parades take place, and where you’ll be able to watch the hours-long colorful procession of dancers, musicians and gigantic floats. Tickets for the event can be bought across the city, and it is very popular with tourists and locals alike.

Blocos (block parties) are public parties that are free and take place throughout the city. There are dozens across the city (actually more than 440 in total), ranging from small (a few hundred people) to tens of thousands of partiers. Some blocos are static, while some are processions along a predetermined route.

The processions are led by “trio eletricos”, huge slow-moving trucks with massive sound systems and live performers. Blocos usually last for around 3-4 hours and are often scheduled so that by the time you finish one you will be able to head straight to another nearby.

What to Wear
Many people wear fancy dress and you’ll see people in all manner of costumes and outfits – everything from superheroes to all-over body paint.

Smart clothes are rarely worn, as the day-time blocos take place in some of the hottest weather of the year. People dress more for a trip to the beach than to an event.

What You’ll See
A lot of people drinking and dancing in the streets! Carnaval brings all sorts of people out, young and old.

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