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The Sambodrome

The official Carnival parades are held in the specially dedicated "Sambadrome". We have compiled all the information you need to decide which seats are the best for you.


Professor Darcy Ribeiro Parade, the famous Sambodrome grounds are situated in Rua Marquês de Sapucaí, Cidade Nova. They begin at Avenida Presidente Vargas, near Praça Quinze, and ends in Rua Frei Caneca.




Types and capacity of accommodations

Boxes (“Camarotes”)
Private mezzanine spaces rentable for the whole festivities, including the Champions' Saturday, subdivided in:

Special Boxes – Four buildings between sectors 3, 5, 7 and 9 holding up to 20 spectators in A Boxes and 18 in B Boxes, in a total of 40 boxes holding up to 760 spectators.

Boxes in sectors 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 4 – 24 boxes per sector, in a total of 144 boxes holding up to 1,728 spectators.

Boxes in Sector 2 – Three storeys containing boxes A, B and C, each box holding 12 spectators. The three storeys have a total capacity of 292 boxes for 3,504 spectators.

The daily capacity of boxes is 5,992 spectators.

Dress Circles (“Frisa”)

The rows of “Frisas” are open boxes (uncovered) with numbered chairs (for 6 people each), walls and one small table. They are as close to the runway as it gets, too close according to some. They are located in sectors 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 4, in a total of 1,088 holding up to 6,528 spectators.

Tiers of Seats, Grandstands or Bleachers (“Arquibancadas”)

They are uncovered spaces up to 15,80 m high, reached by stairs. These are the most reasonably priced seats. The elevated position gives you a better idea of schools as a group. Standard bleachers do not have numbered seats except for the VIP bleachers of Sectors 9 and 11, which are the most expensive.

There aren't actual chairs to sit on – the bleachers are not much more than big concrete steps.
Sectors 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11 and 13, each sitting 2,900 spectators, with the exception of Sector 9 whose numbered seats hold up to 2,306 spectators, in a total of 16,804 spectators.

Popular Tiers of Seats, Popular Grandstands or Popular Bleachers (“Arquibancadas Populares”)

Sector 1 – in the area where the schools organize themselves for the parade; Sectors 6 and 13 – at Praça da Apoteose from where the end of the parade can be seen. Sector 1 holds up to 6,500 spectators and Sectors 6 and 13 up to 9,600 each, in a total of 25,700 spectators.


Choosing the right sector

Now let's see which are the good, the best, and the not-so-good sectors. Starting on the odd-numbered side, the best sectors to stay at are 9, 7, 11, 5 and 3, in this order.
Sector 9 is available through travel agencies only. Seats are reserved mostly for tourists. The big advantage is that this sector has numbered seats, so you don't have to ask someone to save yours while you go stretch your legs during the intermissions. This sector shares with Sector 11 an area known as “ recuo da bateria” ( the drummers' niche). When schools pass by the percussion band, things tend to get hotter - and you enjoy the benefits.

Sector 11 has lately been reserved mostly to travelers that come to Rio with those huge ships. Seats are numbered, the view is great, but these travelers tend to do everything together. As their buses leave back to the ship very early, this may become a ghost sector after the third of fourth school. It's great because you get all the extra space, yet it's a pity to see such good seats empty while the other sectors are pumping... Travel agencies do not know in advance on which row their batch of seats is located, so you can't pay more to sit in a front row. It depends pretty much on your luck.

Sector 7 is the most central, and the most expensive of the standard sectors. Sectors 5 and 3 are good alternatives, with lower-priced (yet still expensive) tickets. Seats are not numbered, and if you are thinking about arriving early to get a front-row, forget about it. There are people willing to arrive hours before the show, and you can't compete with that. Here it's the opposite of Sector 9.

Sector 1 is the only popular sector that offers a good view to the samba schools - but only as they enter the Sambodrome.

Sector 13 is recessed, and you have a very limited view until schools are just about to leave the runway. Tickets to these sectors are much cheaper and go for sale on Carnival week only, if at all. Sometimes they distributed by LIESA (the league of Samba Schools) directly to people from the community who could not afford to go otherwise.

A few years ago they built additional structures between these major odd sectors. Sector 3-A/B is between Sector 3 and 5; Sector 5-A/B is between Sector 5 and 7, and so forth. They offer air-conditioned seats, and prices are often the same charged for a mezzanine box ticket. Because of the size they are sometimes called "super-camarotes".The even-numbered side across the street is easier to picture.

Sector 2 is the long strip with three levels of camarotes, the expensive mezzanine boxes we talked about. Most boxes are air-conditioned, and a couple of them even have showers and other comforts for guests! A basic box is big enough for 12, and you can have several boxes arranged together in a row (if you can afford it, that is). 2A is on ground-floor level, 2B in the middle, and 2C is the top row. There are also mezzanine boxes on the odd sector, underneath the bleachers. They are the mayor's and the governor's boxes.

Sector 4 is recessed, and the view to the parade is partially blocked by sector 2. It is not a very good choice, except for the frisas in the front.

Sector 6 is even more recessed, and you see the schools only as they leave the runway. Bring your portable TV just in case... By the way, sectors 8, 10 and 12 do not exist. If you are offered tickets to these areas, pay with your US$3 bills.



If you cannot afford a ticket, watch the schools line up at the Concentration, instead. As this is an open area and pickpockets may try to take advantage of the crowds, bring a disposable camera to avoid problems. You don't have to pay anything to watch the schools line up at the Concentration. It's a chance to see all costumes and floats together for the first time, even before the TV cameras! And you can take your own cool backstage photos...
Whoever said that birds of a feather flock together must have had Carnival in mind. One of the first things you have to do when you arrive at the Concentration, is finding other members of your ala (group of people wearing the same costume). An impressive sea of feathers covers the asphalt. While one school is marching, two others are gathering at the Concentration. You are welcome to join the fun! Most people will be happy to pose with you for a photo. Make sure you have a wholesome meal before you do the Concentration.


How To Get There

In order to get to the Sambodrome and watch the Carnival parade, it is best to find out the exact location of the relevant sector.
Even Numbered Sectors

If the relevant sector is 2, 4 or 6, there are the following options:

Taxi – pre-determined taxi companies serve the even sectors and there is plenty of information about them during carnival. There is a tariff to leave the Sambodrome and the taximeter or an agreement with the passenger settles the journey to the Sambodrome.

Subway – it goes uninterruptedly daily to 11 pm of Tuesday, the last day of carnival, at 10-minute intervals during the night. The getting off stop is always Praça Onze station, no matter where from. Once outside the station, turn twice to your right and then walk straight ahead to Sector 2. For
Sectors 4 and 6, turn on Rua Carmo Neto and walk on to Av. Salvador de Sá. The Sambodrome can soon be seen and several signs show the entrance to the sectors.

Odd Numbered Sectors

As for sectors 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13, the options are:

Taxi – special companies serve the odd numbered sectors as well, with fixed tariff. In any case, ordinary taxicabs take passengers to the Sambodrome charging what the taximeter shows or what has been agreed upon. For those who come from zona sul, the best route is through Santa Barbara tunnel, and for those from zona norte via Rua Itapiru. In both cases the taxicab must go over Viaduto São Sebastião, which runs parallel to the Sambodrome. Right away the signs to the entrances of the different sectors can be seen.

Subway – either from zona norte or zona sul, the getting off stop is Central. From there, walk to the Sambodrome, a long stretch of approximately 700 meters, going past the schools' allegorical cars and the Terreirão do Samba.

Bus – coming from zona sul or zona norte, it is important to make sure that the bus is going over Viaduto São Sebastião, as many lines change the itinerary during carnival.


What To Take

You should take at most two 500ml plastic containers with beverages and two items of food, such as fruit and/or sandwich. Objects made of polystyrene, bottles, glasses, firecrackers and fireworks are strictly forbidden. A discardable raincoat should be considered for the eventuality of a summer shower. Umbrellas are not a good idea, as they can easily get in the way of other people's view of the parade. At the Sambodrome there are shops and fast food kiosks in all sectors