It's no secret that Rio de Janeiro is a city that likes to party. And when it comes to Carnival, Rio pulls out all the stops to ensure that it is the biggest, brightest, most colorful and most hedonistic celebration anywhere on the planet.
The images beamed around the world - of colorfully-costumed dancers aboard intricately-designed carnival floats - are really just the tip of the carnival iceberg. While the samba school parades are a key part of the festivities (the schools compete fiercely for the title of Carnival winner), the steep price of entrance to the parades, held each year at the huge, purpose-built Sambodromo, means that attendance is not an option for the vast majority of Cariocas (Rio natives).
But far from letting this spoil their fun, the locals have ensured that, while the well-off are watching the parades, the real partying is happening everywhere else. Across the city and throughout carnival season, vibrant street parties (blocos) take place and are free to attend. Led by skilled percussion groups and boosted by no end of chilled beers and icy caipirinhas, these hedonistic street parties are open to all. Just bring your party spirit!
Word to the wise: book accommodation well in advance of Carnival, as it is in short supply (and extortionately-priced) once the festivities draw close.