The Samba Schools

The year 1928 brought something new to the Brazilian carnival:
the emergence of the Samba Schools. The historical landmark was the foundation of the "Deixa Falar" school by the Estácio Sambistas. Inspired by the popularization of Samba, the revelers wanted to create something different from the Great Carnival Societies - clubs with events focused on the upper classes - and the Cordões and Ranchos - which were created by and for the lower classes.

The first parade and competition of Samba Schools took place in 1932 at the Praça Onze in Rio de Janeiro. Nineteen schools competed with their original sambas and the traditional Escola Primeiro de Mangueira was the great winner.

What made the Samba School parades stand out from other carnival forms was the presence of a plot, and the popular appeal - since the instruments used for samba, such as those of percussion, surdo, and tambourine, could be played by anyone with a slight notion of rhythm. The presence of a "Wing of Baianas" and the absence of wind instruments were also mandatory. Slowly, the parades of the samba artists grew to the point of becoming the trademark of the Carioca carnival, known internationally for their themed samba songs, costumes, and dancers.

Today, the parades take place annually during four days at the Marquês de Sapucaí Sambadrome. Two days are dedicated to the schools of the Access Group (less famous and with less capital) and two to the Special Group (more traditional and prestigious), in addition to a parade of the champions on Saturday. With the schools of the Special Group participating with around 3,500 to 4,500 people and 7 to 9 cars, one can see how massive the parades are.

The schools are evaluated under certain criteria for the various elements, such as:

 1. Vanguard Commission

    Group of 10-15 people opening for each school, leading the group, greeting jurors and audience.

    2. Allegories and Props

      Allegorical cars/floats and the people and components they feature. Design and realisation are being judged.

      3. Evolution

        The speed and pace at which the school makes its way down the Sambadrome. Gaps in the flow and constant speed change, for example, are penalized. 

        4. Harmony

          Integration of the rhythm of the drums with the singing, especially the voice of the main performer.

          5. Costumes

            Judged by design and achievement. It is important to be within the theme and that the meaning of different costume elements is clear to the public.

            6. Theme

              The story with beginning, middle and end that every school must tell. The theme is also evaluated in terms of design and realization.

              7. Themed Samba

                Judged by the music and lyrics, it's the song that tells the story behind the school's parade. Schools choose a themed samba through internal competitions in the second semester of the year.

                8. Mestre-Sala and Porta Bandeira

                Flag-bearer and her Escort. Couple whose dance and costumes are judged by the commission. They perform their dance in front of the jurors' booth.

                9. Drums' Section

                  Group that includes around 250 percussion players responsible for the rhythm of the parade.

                  10. Other elements

                    They are not judged individually, but they include: conductor of drums, court of drums (King, Queen, Princess, etc), Wing of Passistas, Wing of Baianas, Wing of the "Old Guard", lead singer, carnavalesco and directors. 

                    The winning schools of the Access Group partake on the Special Group parade the following year.


                    Unlike many parades and international marches - whereby the work of putting together the performances is mostly done by hired professionals - every detail of the Carnaval Parades is made by members of the Samba Schools, who spend the whole year dedicated to putting together one of the biggest shows on Earth. Their work goes far beyond designing a parade: most schools are very active in their communities, leading projects in the realm of social and cultural integration.

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                    Transfer To/From the Show Costs $75.00 USD per customer.
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                    Join us for a safe and comfortable way to the show with various pick up point through out the city, and several Returns from the Sambodromo during and after the show.

                    Important informations and Conditions:

                        1. Prices are per person for the round trip. From your pick-up point to the Sambadrome and back to the pick up point.
                        2. In order for us to provide the best service, reservations for the Regular Shuttle can only be accepted up to 1 month in advance.
                        3. This service is not private – in order to reserve a private transfer please contact us. Remember that small cars cannot access the Sambadrome, only 15-Seat vas or bigger.
                        4. Cancellations can be done up to 14 days prior to Carnaval.
                        5. Pick up point – the shuttles have pick up points in all main hotels in Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon, Barra da Tijuca, Botafogo and Centro. When reserving the transfer shuttles remember to let us know where are you staying so we can assign you to the closest pick up point possible.
                        6. Six different slots will be provided for the shuttle transfer back: each one will be 15 minutes after the end of each Samba Schools Show, from the first to the last. The representative will be waiting  at the meeting point with Red flag and direct you to the bus.
                        7. It’s very important to mention which sector you have tickets for, as both sections (odd and even numbers) need different shuttles that go on different routes. Rio-Tickets is not responsible for any delay, misunderstanding, and time lost due to writing the wrong sector at the time of reservation.
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                        10. The drop off point and pick up point will be the same. Both the odd and even-numbered sectors will be notified upon arrival where they should head to meet a staff representative when wanting to return.
                        11. Please be aware – The stadium area is very hard to access during Carnaval, and the traffic jam can cause delays. Rio-Tickets is not responsible for delays occurring because of traffic. We always advise before purchasing the shuttle service to consider using the Metro, which is sometimes less comfortable, but usually a bit faster.  

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