Carnival Brazil Floats Image: sfmission.com (flickr)
The Carnival Brazil floats figure among the world’s most lavish and extravagant parade devices. More often than not, their various adornments relate to a specific parade theme that is perpetuated by the associated samba schools who decorate and use them. Found either on the Carnival Brazil floats or surrounding them are merry-making revelers who only add to the overall spectacle, and a true spectacle it is.
Types of Floats
Types of Floats Image: sfmission.com (flickr)
There are essentially two types of Carnival Brazil floats – large and lavish ones and smaller, simpler versions. The larger ones are used in the more significant Carnival parades, such as the main parade of them all in Rio de Janeiro – the Samba School Parade. This main parade is held over the course of two days and takes place in Rio’s special Carnival parade venue – the Sambadromo. The Sambadromo can accommodate 90,000 people and features a long parade avenue. There are certain rules that apply to the large floats that are featured in the Samba School Parade. For starters, each samba school that is performing can only use between five and eight floats. These floats can have a maximum width of eight-and-a-half meters (approximately 28 feet) and must not exceed the height of the existing TV broadcasting tower that is placed at Sectors 11 and 13. Smaller Carnival Brazil floats are used in the various other parades that march through the city streets. More often than not, the streets can not accommodate the larger floats. One thing is similar when it comes to nearly all of the Carnival Brazil floats, and that is their adherence to the special theme that their affiliated samba schools are trying to convey.
Samba schools are clubs or dancing schools that devote themselves to practicing and performing samba. Traditionally associated with particular neighborhoods, their origins are closely linked to the development of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro and with the creation of samba in general. The first samba schools began competing in contests in 1929, and today, the Carnival contests that they compete in are very much at the heart of Rio’s Carnival celebrations. The most renowned of these competitions is the Samba School Parade, which features the 14 top-ranked schools in the city and is held over the two days leading up to Mardi Gras Day, or Fat Tuesday. The Rio de Janeiro venue of choice for the Samba School Parade is the aptly-named Sambadromo. Tickets for this lavish event are hard to get, and should you have trouble attaining them, you can always hope to watch a samba school rehearsal. Well before the Samba School Parade gets under way, the samba schools around the city host Saturday rehearsals that are often open to the general public. It is interesting to note that outsiders can participate in the Samba School Parade at the Sambadromo. The samba schools open up positions to outsiders with the intent of raising funds. It also helps them increase their presence on the parade route. A low turnout by a specific school can result in the loss of critical points. If this sounds interesting to you, all that is usually required to gain the right to participate in the Samba School Parade is the purchase of a costume. You must also commit to a certain school. Costumes can often be purchased online before you even arrive in Brazil.
Top image: sfmission.com (flickr)