New Years in Copacabana Fireworks

Fireworks in Copacabana. Photo copyright© Douglas Engle

New Years in Rio de Janeiro; Millions of people meet on the beach in Copacabana to greet the next year welcome, New Years in Rio de Janeiro is fantastic! In many countries bringing together all those people and alcohol would end in lots of fighting and bad energy; not here. How a huge crowd like that can be so peaceful is a mystery to me and the surge of good energy just before and after the switch to the new year is amazing. So what’s the best way to go about things to enjoy it most?

Suggestion for Preparation for New Years in Rio

To traditionally celebrate New Years in Rio, or Reveillon as it is called in Portuguese, you should be dressed in something white. Many eat lentil soup and even but some grains in their wallet, it is supposed to grant prosperity during the coming year. Gather some friends you want to celebrate with and walk down to Copacabana Beach. Meeting up before is essential since it is almost impossible on the beach, the crowd is huge and cell phones normally stop working. I think a good time to be down there is around 9 or 10 PM. On the way buy some lillies so you can sacrifice it to the Yemanjá (Goddess of the Sea); after catching seven waves throw them into the water (it actually grants you three wishes so make sure to make them). Bringing some beach sheets (kangas) is a good idea so you don’t have to be on your feet the whole time. Glass (beer or cups) is not allowed, bottles of bubbly are exceptions, beer in cans are sold for elevated prices. Note that if you live in a neighbourhood further away, like Catete or Santa Teresa, you should buy special colour-coded metro tickets in advance, without them it can get very hard to arrive in Copacabana.

New Years in Rio - Morning

The morning after.

The Best Spot

I personally think that the crowd is a bit too dense in front of Copacabana Palace. If you want to go there you have to go down there quite early to get a good view of the free shows since people crowd to see them. A much more relaxed atmosphere and a lot more space you will find closer to the fort in front of Life Guard Tower 6 (Posto 6). The other advantage of staying there is that it is closer to Ipanema where you most likely will be going later.


Closing in on midnight the crowd only gets bigger and the atmosphere builds up. Then it starts: Several barges loaded with fireworks go off at the same time and the effect is amazing. Notice how Cantagalo, the favela in Copacabana, also have fireworks that they shoot off right after the official one. It’s like a demonstration: “We live here as well!”. There are also fireworks and activities in Flamengo and some other parts of Rio but nothing comes close to the fireworks in Copacabana. In efforts to split the crowds there are stages with big artist performing on Ipanema Beach as well. The schedules and setup changes every year so confirm before in a newspaper.

To Ipanema

Just after the fireworks end in Copacabana the crowds starts to slowly move over to Ipanema Beach. Two New Years I have joined the Hare Krishna who usually walks from Copacabana on Rua Francisco Otaviano; that’s a blast and a great way to greet a New Year! On the beach of Ipanema there are several parties going on, some of them private others you can pay entrance to join. The partying goes on until early in the morning.

Where To Stay?

I have put together some info about Accommodation for New Years in Rio where you can find out how to make the best deal for you. Just like during Carnival prices go up considerably, the difference between neighbourhoods is extreme since it all has to do with the proximity to the parties.

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