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Carnival ignites Rio again

More than a million tourists are expected between April 20 and 30 in the Carioca city, where the carnival, canceled last year and then postponed due to the Covid, is making a comeback.

Deprived of festivities last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic raging in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro finds its Carnival, its parades and its days of celebration and joy at the end of April. Scheduled for the end of February, it finally takes place from April 20 to 30, with the best samba schools parading on April 20 and 23. The organizers announced in January that the order of school parades at the Sambadrome will be maintained and that all tickets already purchased will be valid for the new dates.

The samba schools will parade with their gigantic floats, their thousands of dancers in flamboyant costumes, to the frenetic rhythm of the drums. “We are going to have the biggest show in the world again”welcomed Eduardo Paes, the mayor of the city carioca of seven million inhabitants.

The Carnival normally takes place during the five days preceding Ash Wednesday but this year, after the cancellation of the 2021 edition, the progression of the Omicron variant forced the organizers to move the party to April, around a long holiday weekend. In the history of this immense popular festival, the Carnival had only been postponed once… in 1912, due to the death of a national hero, the diplomat Rio Branco, to whom the famous phrase is attributed: “There are only two really organized things in Brazil: disorder and Carnival”. A finding still relevant a century later.

Hotels 85% full

The parades are a grandiose spectacle but they are also a competition to designate the best school of the year. Viradouro, the 2020 champion school, chose to recall the 1919 Carnival, known as “the greatest Carnival of all time”, after the deadly Spanish flu epidemic. The theme of the parade is a message of resilience and hope as the Covid has caused the death of more than 660,000 Brazilians: “ No sadness can resist such joy”. This is true at the Cité de la samba where an army of carpenters, painters, seamstresses, decorators, mechanics prepares the parades. “Seeing the city empty was immensely sad. But today, we see people back with a smile in their eyes.is moved a worker.

Tourists are also back. The hotels are almost full, with an expected occupancy rate of 85%. “Because of the very high dollar and the war in Europe, Brazilians travel more in their own country”, notes Alfredo Lopes, president of the Rio Hotel Association. The head of major events in the state of Rio, Marcelo Monfort, assures him that a million Brazilian and foreign tourists are expected. An essential windfall for the local economy. According to him, Carnival “generates 250,000 direct and indirect jobs and injects nearly 800 million euros into the state economy”. It supports thousands of families in the favelas, the poor neighborhoods of Rio.

“We want to enjoy, to change our minds”

“I really feel the fact that the French have remained confined and have not traveled for a while, I have a lot more customers this year than in previous years”notes Johanna Stella Khouri, head of the Bonjour Rio travel agency. “Most of my clients tell me: we haven’t traveled for two years, there’s a war in Europe, we want to take advantage, we want to change our minds”adds the young Frenchwoman.

However, the party will lose some of its magic. Because the “blocos”, these groups which happily parade in the streets, have been banned to avoid reviving the virus, which is currently in sharp decline in the country. The measure will undoubtedly be respected in the rich and tourist districts but much less in the old popular Rio of the center, where the heart of the street carnival beats.

For Abel da Silva, coming to the carnival is the dream of a lifetime. This 58-year-old Frenchman, who has survived several serious illnesses, travels as much as he can. “I don’t know when I’m going to pass the weapon to the left, so I’m taking advantage”he said, contacted in France via Facebook. “It was an unexpected opportunity for me to finally see once in my life the famous carnival of Rio, its atmosphere, its party. Yes, it’s an old dream”.

This article is being updated

SEE ALSO – [archives 2018] Rio Carnival: the parade of samba schools

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