Rio Carnival Samba Parade

Rio Carnival Samba Parade

Rio de Janeiro Carnival Samba Schools Parade is organized as a championship dispute. A fierce competition, where there is a Special Group, a sort of first division, with 12 Samba Schools parading on Sunday and Monday of Carnival, 6 schools per Night.

Other divisions are Serie A (Access Group) that parades on Friday and Saturday, and Groups B, C and D. Over the years the group names, number of participating schools and competition rules have changed. The first official parade and contest occurred in the 1932 carnival, and was won by Mangueira Samba School.

In 1983, Rio´s former mayor Leonel Brizola ordered the Samba Promenade project to the Greatest Brazilian Architect Oscar Niemeyer. Its grand opening was on the 2nd of March of 1984 and soon became known as the Sambadrome.

While this happened, directors of the samba schools decided to organize the Independent League of Rio de Janeiro Samba Schools in 1984 (LIESA). One of the first things The League did was splitting the Parade in 2 days, Sunday and Monday and sold contracts to television stations that began paying for the transmission, plus receiving a percentage on the sale of tickets.

The parade starts at 9:30pm and it goes until 5-6am. Each of the six Samba Groups have 82 minutes to parade. Samba Schools lose one tenth per minute exceeded on the Parade, to be deducted from its final score.

Surprises abound in the parades of the samba schools, who keep all secrets to be revealed only at the promenade. But all Samba Schools also need to follow basic rules, within a regulation that gives points to decide who will receive the Special Group big championship title.

There are five judges (spread all over the Sambadrome) for each of the items to be analyzed:

  1. Drummers
  2. Samba Theme
  3. Harmony
  4. Parade Evolutiion
  5. Plot
  6. Floats and Props
  7. Costumes
  8. Front Committee
  9. Master of Ceremonies and Flag bearer

Only the lowest note of each item is discarded.

The counting of the notes of the Special Group Parade takes place on Ash-Wednesday. The Top 6 Samba Groups will parade again at the Sambadrome the following Saturday for the Champions Parade.

The last placed Samba Group in the Special Group Competition gets downgrade to the Access Group and will parade next year on Friday or Saturday. The Champion of the Access Group will open the Special Group Carnival Parade the following year, being the First Group parading on Sunday.

At the end of Carnival, each Samba School starts preparing for next year´s carnival. It´s a full year job and they practice their routine with several months in advance, since they are judged on many aspects of their performance in order to win the prestigious championship and the prize of 2 million Brazilian Reais offered by the City of Rio de Janeiro.

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