Since its conception in the early 20th Century, the Samba rhythms have captivated Brazilians, Cariocas (Rio de Janeiro locals) and travelers alike. With the music and dance derived from it spreading throughout the world, Brazil and Rio de Janeiro have become famous for this cultural contribution to the world.
Part thanks to the world-famous Rio Carnival and part due to the melting pot of cultures found in this city, there are few places in Brazil, and the world, better to experience the beat of samba.
As well as exploring the city highlights of Rio from the Christ the Redeemer Statue to the beaches of Copacabana, any visit to Rio de Janeiro would not be complete without exploring its samba rhythms. This useful guide will introduce you to the best samba experiences in Rio de Janeiro that will have you tapping your feet and swinging your hips in no time at all.
♦ Samba Show Rehearsals
Experiencing a real samba show rehearsal in Rio de Janeiro cannot be missed. Rio de Janeiro’s samba schools each represent a particular neighborhood of the Marvelous City, with each one taking part in the main event of the Samba Parade during the Rio Carnival. Beginning in September, the samba schools begin to fine tune their samba moves and hold samba nights which are referred to as ‘rehearsals’.
Taking a guided tour of the different samba schools around Rio will give you a unique insight into the preparations for the most important event of the year in Rio.
Your local and knowledgeable guide will be able to provide you with a short history of the samba school, any of their great achievements as well as point you in the right direction to begin dancing a bit of samba yourself. If you can’t make it to Carnival, this is undoubtedly the best way to experience the real essence of samba and learn all about Brazil’s famous dance.
♦ The Rio Scenarium
Situated within an old house full of antiques, this may not sound like the perfect setting for one of Rio’s best night spots, but the Rio Scenarium manages to pull off this great feat. The décor has turned this former mansion in the Lapa district into an intriguing place to have a local and authentic samba experience.
Rio Scenarium is a unique blend of antique shop and music venue, although the large 10,000-piece collection of antique furniture and objects is solely for exhibition purposes.
Spread out across three floors, the first floor stage and dance area of the Rio Scenarium is the scene of a diverse range of Brazilian rhythms from samba and choro to pagoda music. The other two floors have central balconies providing you with a bird’s eye view of the locals putting on their dancing shoes and swinging their hips to the live music. This is without a doubt one of the most unique experiences to have in Rio de Janeiro and is one of our favorite hidden treasures.
♦ Carnival in Rio de Janeiro
We couldn’t possibly mention the best samba experiences in Rio without including the world’s main samba event of the year, the Rio Carnival. Part of Rio Carnival’s uniqueness is the fact that the 12 Rio Samba Schools have to reinvent themselves each year, developing a whole new parade and theme.
The magnificent, purpose built stadium called, the Sambadrome plays host to the 30,000 samba performers and more than 80,000 spectators eager to see the samba schools perform.
Known as ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ the Rio Carnival lasts approximately 10 hours and is one of the most sought after travel experiences in the world. The current Rio Carnival is a long way from its relatively humble beginnings as a farewell to the impulses of lent and nowadays provides an iconic sense of what it is to be Brazilian. Planning at least 6 months ahead for the Rio Carnival is essential as availability of tickets for the Sambadrome sell out extremely quickly with people from all over the world and Brazil descending on Rio. The 2017 Rio Carnival is fast approaching (Fri 24th February 2017 until Weds 1st March 2017) and although you may not be in time to enjoy Rio’s 2017 Carnival, the 2018 dates have already been scheduled for Friday 9th February 2018 until Wednesday 14th February 2018.
♦ Plataforma Samba Show
Popular with travelers, the Plataforma Samba Show has become a hotspot for those visiting Rio de Janeiro. If you prefer distancing yourself from commercialized shows, then we recommend that you leave the Plataforma Samba Show off your travel itinerary. The Plataforma Show certainly deserves its popularity as it successfully entertains those who go to the show with a taste of Brazilian culture, folklore and the Carioca atmosphere.
In the heart of the fashionable neighborhood of Leblon, the Samba Show has a relaxed ambiance as it takes you on a journey back in time through Brazil’s colorful history.
From Indian dancers paying tribute to Brazil’s culture prior to the arrival of the Portuguese colonizers to marveling at Capoeira that explores the African influence in Brazil. The Show draws to a close with spectacular displays of the lightning speed dance steps of Forró and a Carnival Samba performance to bring the tale of Brazilian folklore and history up to the present day.