Challenges, Inspiration

Rio Carnival – the biggest party in the world!

February 8, 2013

Charity Challenge veteran team leader, Trevor Gibbs gives us his personal slant on the Rio Carnival

Long regarded as the Carnival Capital of the World, Rio de Janeiro plays host to one of the world’s most famous and colourful parties, attracting around half a million visitors to its city streets each year. First introduced into Brazil by the colonial Portuguese, the Rio Carnival has evolved into a unique mix of African and Amerindian cultures, with music, parades and samba schools turning the streets into a dazzling visual celebration of Brazilian culture.

This year’s celebrations take place between 8-13 February; a four day extravaganza that provides a stunning backdrop of outrageous costumes and a pulsating samba beat to one of the most spectacular artistic events on the planet. The carnival officially starts on the Saturday, going through to ‘Fat Tuesday’ and the beginning of Lent. Traditionally it is seen as a last farewell to the excesses of the body, before the abstinence of Ash Wednesday begins. For many though, it is simply the best party in the world!

Months in the planning, the carnival begins with the crowning of the Fat King (King Momo), after which the celebrations can begin in earnest. Each of Rio’s neighbourhoods provide carnival bands (more than 300 at the last count) and the local samba schools provide a continuous stream of entertainment over the four days, culminating in the Samba Parade on the final evening. A vital element of the Rio Carnival, many of the samba schools represent the poorer neighbourhoods of the city; the working class communities that live in the slums (favelas). Each school chooses a theme for the carnival and competes with its neighbours to create the best costumes and the best floats, before joining the throngs of party goers, drag queens and bands on the streets. Some of the bands have been known to attract up to 10,000 participants, closing down streets and gridlocking traffic, leaving drivers with little choice but to sit back and enjoy the moment.

Today, the famous parade takes place in the purpose-built Sambodromo stadium, the venue for the opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympics. Designed by the famous Brazilian architect, Oscar Niemeyer, it is capable of holding over 90,000 people and is located at what is believed to be the birthplace of the samba, in the heart of the favelas. There are no hard and fast rules as to what to wear for the party (residents of Rio will even attend weddings and funerals in colourful shorts), but be prepared for a long night, as the celebrations go on until sunrise. And remember, if you really want to get into the party spirit, you can even join in on one of the main parades…All you need is a costume and a little rhythm. For more information, check out the official Carnival website:

If your liking the sound of Brazil, then check out our Brazilian Trek and Kayak Challenge, an exciting challenge that combines trekking in the Serra da Bocaina National Park, part of a substantial swathe of rainforest between Rio and São Paulo, with kayaking in the tropical Bay of Paraty.

The Brazil trek and kayak is one of our most unique and varied challenge, and although we cannot guarantee that it will be plain sailing from beginning to end – the combined elements of rainforest trekking and sea kayaking make this a very tough challenge! But on the completion of your challenge in Rio, you will definately have reason to celebrate! If you want to learn more about this challenges and the many other amazing challenges we offer, you can visit our website at To keep up to date on all Charity Challenge news, please enter your email address into the adjacent box to subscribe to our mailing list. And for more of Trevor’s view on the world, check out his blog at:

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