Did you know that the word Carnaval comes from Latin (Carnis Levale) which means 'farewell to meat'? The Carnaval culminates on 'Fat Tuesday' - this year February 28th - which is the day immediately prior to beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday. So the Carnaval is always about 40 days before Easter, and this applies to Rio, Venice, Recife and pretty much everywhere.
Here in Rio things are of course in a bit of overdrive. It's great - what most people don't know is that the Carnaval mostly happens in the streets. The street parties, called blocos, happen all over the city and there are probably about 300 of them in Rio over the Carnaval week. We have lots of choice!
The street parties are for everyone, and many small local dance and music groups get to show their chops in them. Some are small and some are big, but all of them are loud.
February is the hottest month of the year in Rio and every day we have been here it has been over +30C. this is why the Carnaval mostly happens at night. The block parties tend to be at 7 or 8 in the morning or at 8 at night. No one does samba at midday!
The official samba competition takes place at the Rio Sambodromo. There are four nights of competition and then the winners parade the following weekend. The competitions start at around 8 pm and go on until about 5 in the morning. Yikes!