After hotel pickup, travel to the mandala-shaped Cidade do Samba, a warehouse complex in Gamboa, the birthplace of Rio de Janeiro's samba. More than 80 samba schools with 100,000 dancers participate in Carnival, but each year only the top 12 to 14 samba schools form the Special Group, aka the First League, which build and store their magnificent floats and costumes at Cidade do Samba. As you explore the complex with your guide, learn about the history of samba as well as the Carnival parade and competition in the Sambadrome.
Although Carnival explodes into action only once a year, backstage preparations continue on a daily basis. Want to know more? Head inside the warehouse of G.R.E.S. Acadêmicos do Grande Rio, a local-favorite samba school established in 1988.
With your guide leading the way, meander through the warehouse and marvel at the floats in progress. Eye the rows of racks bursting with eye-popping costumes. Learn about the allegories and stories underlying the pageantry, as your guide explains Carnival’s pagan origins that began in ancient Greece and continued into the Middles Ages in Europe before arriving in Brazil through Portuguese colonization.
Wondering how those costumes would look on you? Try them on and find out! Slip on some outrageous ensembles and snap memorable pics to upload on your social media accounts.
Finally, toast your visit with a caipirinha, a cocktail made with cachaça (sugar cane hard liquor), sugar and lime, before taking transport back to your hotel.