Thursday, 3 March 2011

Sequins and feathers? Must be Carnival in Rio

Rio Carnival Tickets Baby!
It's official. Carnaval is here.

I just picked up my tickets for Sunday's samba parade at the Sambodromo (Rio's purpose build samba parade stadium).  I'm not entirely sure how much I'm looking forward to this 'once in a lifetime' experience.  Basically you pay a fortune to stay up all night sitting on an uncomfortable concrete bench watching other people have fun.  It better be worth it!

It's quite a business buying tickets to the event.  In true Brazilian style, it's all very mysterious and difficult.  You can't just call a booking office and buy a seat for the night you want, in the seat you want.  Each type of seat is sold on different days.  For the best of the "cheap" seats - open boxes with tables that line the route - you have to fax a request at a specific time and date way back in December.  Obviously I missed that.  Then, at 8am on January 15th (or thereabouts), the arena seats become available.  I called the dedicated number for two solid hours before I got the message that all the seats had been sold out.  Humph.  In the end I bought tickets from an agency that tripled the price and tried sell me a t-shirt, a blow up cushion and a tour of the city.  Smells like corruption to me.

Local Pet Shop's Rack of Canine Carnival Costumes
Anyway, even it I'm not, the rest of Rio is getting into a carnival mood.  People have started wearing flowers and feathers in their hair.  The pet shop has a window display of costumes for dogs.  You can hear drums.  On Wednesday night my spinning class instructor treated us to a blast of traditional samba and Ivete Sangalo numbers instead of the usual techno music.  At one point one of my fellow spinnees leapt off her bike and exploded into a one-million-footsteps-an-hour samba frenzy around the room...she just couldn't resist it...high kicks and everything.

Tonight is my children's school 'bloco', a street party where everyone dresses up and follows a samba band around a neighbourhood, singing, dancing and getting their cellphones stolen.  Little bear still doesn't know what he's going as.  I thought we were all set as skeleton, but he was told this week at school that carnival was just for non-scary costumes so now he's considering between "happy things" like a soldier, pirate or batman.  Little Dove will, of course. choose between pale pink princess, bright pink princess and white princess.

Feather Shop in Rio's Saara District
If I do finally get the urge to dress up, I've found the place to shop for DIY costumes.  Yesterday I discovered the shops on Rua Buenos Aires that sell glitzy fabrics, beads, feathers, head-dresses, wigs, masks and all manner of other haberdasher's curiosities.  Palàcio da Plumas (Feather Palace) is a warehouse-sized store where you can buy feathers in all sizes, shapes and colours by the kilo.  The sequins and beads aisle of superstore Caçula is as long as the samba parade itself.  It's all one big trannie strippers dream but the jury is still out on whether it is really mine.  Verdict on Monday.


  1. Hi, I'm looking to buy feathers and I stumbled upon your blog. Could you tell me where Palàcio da Plumas is in Rio? I tried google it and it seems as if it only comes up in Sao Paulo. I know of Saarram is that where I can find it?

    Kind regards


  2. @Anonymous
    It's on rua buenos aires, in the saara district, metro uruguaiana. There are also lots of feathers in a shop called Cacula, on the same street (upstairs).

  3. Super, thank you very much :-)


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