February is fast approaching, and for party lovers, that means one thing: time to head to Rio de Janeiro for Carnival. Held every year before Lent, Carnival is almost unarguably the largest party in the world. It’s estimated that about 2 million people attend annually. And this year’s events look bigger and better than ever. For serious party lovers, this is a must-see event. But before you bust out your party gear, take a second to prepare. After all, you don’t want to dive into this massive celebration without knowing how to have the best time possible. We’ve got your essential survival guide to making the most of the Rio Carnival.
Show Up Early
Things get real crazy, real fast at Carnival. Your best bet is to arrive a few days before the festivities get underway. This will give you time to settle in, scope out your surroundings, and create a plan to optimize your party time. Plus, you’ll avoid the last-minute crowds that can overwhelm Rio.
Haven’t booked your tickets to Carnival yet? Don’t fret, there’s still time to book cheap flights to Rio to get your part on!
Make a Plan
Although the party is pretty much everywhere during Carnival, there are certain sites you won’t want to miss out on. A lot of the best action goes down at Sambadrome, the massive exhibition center. Tickets can cost a pretty penny (particularly as you get closer to the date of the party) so decide early on if you’re going to splurge. Do some research and decide which events you have to see, which you can do without, and where you need to go for maximum fun.
Dress to Impress
It’s all about outrageous costumes and fun times at Carnival, so get ready to be creative! Anything goes when it comes to outfits. Some opt for a bedazzled and wild style, while others prefer to simply show up in a bathing suit. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something you can wear for the long haul — you don’t want to have to plan an outfit change into your night of partying. Try some bright colors to get into the spirit of things. But whatever you do, make sure to pick comfortable shoes with your outfit — trust us, your feet will thank you.
While it’s a wonderful and utterly exhilarating time, Carnival isn’t always the safest place to be. Rio has its own safety concerns, and unwitting tourists can quickly find themselves in dangerous situations. When in doubt, be aware. Stick to well-lit and populated areas. Don’t wander on your own. Keep your valuables secure. You can have a phenomenal experience while still keeping your guard up.
A lot of drinking goes down at Carnival — and we mean a LOT. Especially popular is the drink known as Caipirinha, the national beverage of Brazil. Caipirinha is made up of sugar, lime, and cachaça — a spirit made from fermented sugarcane juice. It’s sweet and delicious, but packs a killer punch. And with temperatures that can soar dangerously high, drinking a lot of water just makes sense. No one can enjoy a trip when dealing with a massive hangover.
Carnival is more than just the biggest party in the world. It’s a goldmine of art, delicious foods, colorful costumes, and exciting music. Don’t stick to just one part of the event — instead, check out the variety of amazing sights and sensations Carnival has to offer. Sample the local food, do some shopping, and spend time crowd-watching. You’ll never be bored when you immerse yourself in the joy and fun of Carnival. The hardest part will be deciding what to do next!
Take to the Streets
Sure the ticketed events are tons of fun, but they’re only the tip of the Carnival iceberg. Much of the excitement and entertainment exists out in the streets themselves; in fact, many people believe that the street parties are the true heart and soul of Carnival. Check out what’s happening in your neighborhood. It’s an incredible experience to wander from party to party, noting the differences and similarities. Pick the one that gets you going, and get ready for the party experience of a lifetime.
Know Your Route
It’s all too easy to get lost in the heady fun of Carnival. A few careless moves and suddenly you’re stranded in unfamiliar parts without a familiar face in sight. Don’t end up in an unsafe situation; stick to places with obvious security (certain Samba halls advertise their friendliness towards tourists) that are well-lit. Make sure you have a clear path back to your hotel or residence, and check-in points if anyone should get separated from the group. Have back-up routes in case of emergency, and make sure to carry enough cash for a cab if the situation calls for it. A little preparation beforehand ensures you’ll maximize your fun and minimize your stress.
Got Carnival survival tips? Share them with fellow party-goers in the comments below!