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Rio Carnival 2013: Everything You Need to Know to Get Ready

The biggest of all the carnival celebrations taking place around the world is held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Huge numbers of revellers descend on the city each year to enjoy four days of partying. Here, we’ve put together a list of 10 frequently asked questions to help you understand the Rio Carnival.

1. When is the Rio Carnival in 2013?
This year, the carnival in Rio is taking place from Feb. 9 to Feb. 12.

2. What is the Rio Carnival?
The Rio Carnival is a rambunctious series of parades and parties held 40 days before Easter and just before the more somber season of Lent begins. It’s also one of the most important events in Brazilian culture. Preparations for the Rio Carnival go on for months before the actual event. If you’re lucky enough to be in Rio during carnival, you can expect spectacular parades by the city’s samba schools, street parties, live Brazilian music and plenty more.

3. What is the Sambadrome?
Designed by famous Brazilian architect, Oscar Niemeyer, the Sambadrome is Rio’s “stadium of samba.” Basically, it’s a permanent parade route lined with concrete spectator stands that can seat around 70,000 people. Each year during carnival, the Sambadrome is the setting for the extravagant parades by Rio’s numerous samba schools. Stretching along for 700m (or almost half a mile), the Sambadrome is located along Avenida Marquês de Sapucaí, between Avenida Presidente Vargas and Rua Frei Caneca. You need to have a ticket to check out the parades at the Sambadrome during carnival; keep in mind that ticket prices vary depending on the location of the seats in the stands.

4. When are the parades held?
Every day during carnival you’ll find a parade taking place at the Sambadrome, with various samba schools participating each day. There’s a pecking order of performances, with the top dozen schools marching on the Sunday, Feb. 12 and Monday, Feb. 13, this year. The parades, which are also a competition between the schools, begin nightly at 9 p.m., continuing into the wee hours of the morning. Each samba school has between 70 and 80 minutes to make their way along the parade route. The champion’s parade follows on Saturday, Feb. 16th, with the sixth-place school parading at 9 a.m.and the first-place school strutting their stuff from 2.25 a.m.

5. Who takes part in the parades?
All the parades during the Rio Carnival are opened by “King Momo,” the King of the Carnival. Each school taking part in the parades chooses a specific theme, the details of which are designed, produced and directed by a carnavalesco or carnival designer. Elaborate floats are manned by large numbers of performers, with many more dancers and musicians accompanying them at street level. A few to keep an eye out for are the vanguard commission, a group at the head of each school’s parade.

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