It’s a great warm-up for the biggest party on earth next month, Carnival in Rio de Janeiro: visiting a rehearsal of a samba school. This way travellers in Rio can already get a taste of carnival by checking out the preparations of the big samba schools that will participate in the competition. You can watch them just weeks before the real parade. An awesome experience.
All the major samba schools have set days for experiencing their rehearsals for the big parade during carnival in Rio de Janeiro, which already had begun last year. Most of the rehearsals take place in the weekend, but some of them are on weekdays. You get to see the best samba drummers and dancers. It’s the perfect way to experience the energy and emotion of carnival in Rio de Janeiro, without making it to the official parade.
The samba schools, community clubs originated from the poorer parts of the city, are from different neighborhoods. Some of them are located on the outskirts of Rio, others in the Center. Depending on the distance of the rehearsal location you can visit them yourself by taxi, or go on an organized tour. While it’s a 20-minute taxi ride to famous samba school Mangueira, to get to rival Grande Rio in suburb Duque de Caxias it will take you easily 45 minutes up to an hour. Some locations are in favelas and you might feel safer going there with a tour. If you plan to visit one of the rehearsals ask a local at your hotel, hostel or host of your apartment to help you out.
The two most famous and historic samba schools, Mangueira and Salgueiro, are okay to visit on your own. São Clemente is also easy to visit by yourself. Just a piece of advice: don’t start wandering around in the neighborhoods. There is nothing there, just enter the building and order a taxi when you want to leave.