Rio de Janeiro Carnival: By the numbers

December 6, 2017

Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival is the party of the year. Millions flock to the annual festival that kicks off Lent — which is the period before Easter when Catholics abstain from frivolous joy — every year. While other spots in Brazil (and around the world) host their own pre-Lent parties, Rio’s annual Carnival is widely regarded as the best of the bunch. Visitors can expect the days between Feb. 9–13 to be action-packed as bands and samba dancers that take over Rio’s streets, public squares and bars. Here, a look at what goes into one of the world's biggest, brightest, and boldest celebrations:

5: The number of days this exuberant party lasts. Carnival (Carnaval in Portuguese) usually happens in February starting on the Friday before Fat Tuesday (which you may know as Mardi Gras). Even though the celebration technically spans five days, many Brazilians kick-start the festivities not long past New Year’s Day, with street bands playing notes throughout the city.

40: The number of days before Easter that Carnival begins. Lent is the waiting period before Easter, which is itself the most important holiday in the Catholic faith. For that 40-day block, many will cut back on life’s little pleasures, hence the need for excess in the days before.

2: Number of nights for the samba parade. The samba parade is the main event that Brazilians wait for each year. It takes place over the Sunday and the Monday night of Carnival in which dancers from the top samba schools put on one of the best arts performances on the planet.

782 million: Amount, in U.S. dollars, that visitors spent during their stay in Rio during Carnival season in 2015. According to Time magazine, in 2015, nearly one million tourists showed up in Rio to join the party.

25,000: Guzzling beer and cachaça all night means party-goers need pit-stops between songs. A 2016 Time article noted that there are 25,000 portable toilets available.

220: The approximate number of calories in a coxinha— arguably Brazil’s most mouth-watering street food. Party goers who are drinking are going to need to fill their bellies with something and these raindrop-shaped fried pastries stuffed with chicken (frango) will hit the spot.

27: The average temperature, in degrees Celsius, of Rio de Janeiro in February. That said, the temperatures can soar much higher: 2010 was a notoriously sweltering year, with the mercury climbing to above 40 C.

6: The number of samba schools that perform each night during the main parade.

92: Years since the first samba school, Deixa Falar, opened in Rio. Carnival dates back to the 18th century, but once samba became predominant in pockets throughout the city, the tone of the party shifted.

1984: Year the Sambodromo was completed. This structure features grandstands, private suites and a runway-esque stage that’s about half a mile long. Designed by Oscar Neimeyer, it’s one of Rio de Janeiro’s most iconic pieces of architecture, and it hosts the main Carnival event. (Fun fact: It was also the start line for the marathons during the 2016 Olympics.)

72,000: The number of people that can be seated inside the Sambodromo.

4,863: Got a few thousand bucks to spare? This is the number of American dollars it costs to rent out a luxury suite inside the Sambodromo during the parade. This VIP spot fits 18 people and includes buffet service.

70: As reported by The New York Times, this is the number of cities and towns in Brazil that cancelled Carnival in 2017 while the country was reeling from one of the country's worst-ever economic downturns, the year after hosting the Olympic Games.

Getting there

Keen to check out Rio's Carnival for yourself? G Adventures can get you there. Check out our Rio de Janeiro Carnival Experience tour here.

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