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Festivals and Events in Rio De Janeiro

Rio isn’t complete without a mention of the Carnaval. People from the world over come to witness the event that has become synonymous with gay abandon, riotous revelry, gorgeous women, dancing, drumming and fancy dresses. Those who aren’t lucky enough to do so content themselves with watching televised documentaries. On the Friday before Shrove Tuesday, the mayor of Rio symbolically hands over the keys of the city to King Momo, a bedecked Lord of Misrule, which kicks off a five-day bacchanalian feast. Barriers are broken as everyone takes to dancing and partying on the well-lit and colourfully festooned main avenues. Organised carnival groups (blocos carnavelescos) perform dances accompanied by much singing and drumming everywhere in the city. Check the local newspapers for dates and venue if you happen to be in Rio at this time.

Less well known than the Carnaval but with a joie de vivre of its own is the festival of Iemanja on the night of 31 December. A Queen of the Sea is rowed along the seashore of Copacabana, Leblon and Ipanema beaches. People gather here to honour the spirit of the sea and dance around open fires making offerings to the goddess. This festival tends to get dwarfed by the New Year’s Eve celebration at Copacabana beach.

The religious festival of Sao Sebastio is marked by a procession from Capuchinhos Church, Tijuca, to the cathedral of Sao Sebastio. It is celebrated on 20 January to honour the patron saint of Rio.

In January, international pop stars visit Rio for live performances and the three-day festival is called Hollywood Rock.

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