In 2018, Carnival will begin on Friday, February 9 and run through a wild extended weekend to Tuesday, February 13. The day after is Ash Wednesday when the parties are over (for the most part) and you will find the streets of Rio de Janeiro quietly getting back to normal. Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival is considered the world’s largest, hosting approximately two million participants per day. In 2004, Rio’s carnival attracted a record 400,000 foreign visitors.
Getting There & Where to Stay
Purchasing a package of a flight including a hotel stay can be a great way to save money. (Expedia has some of the cheapest package deals we have found with international flights to Brazil.) However, for those who want to book flights separately, try the following.
For lodging, Booking.com remains the best, cheapest, way to find both hotels and flats (with Expedia ranking a close 2nd.) Visit our full list of gay-friendly places to stay in Rio de Janeiro by clicking on the link below.
Day-By-Day Schedule to Carnival 2018
Hopefully, you can arrive before Carnival week (and stay after.) By January, Rio will be in full swing. Visit any of the gay bars and clubs on our list and you will find a good time. Click below for the past list of gay blocos, nightclub events, and parades from 2017. It will give you an idea of what to expect in 2018. (We’ll update this listing as soon as detailed info on 2018 becomes available.)
To keep this section short, our guide will assume you know how to navigate the dangers of big cities and foreign countries. Download digital version of Lonely Planet: Rio de Janeiro for the best English-language guide to the city, and a good source for basic travel tips.
- Mobile data – research the international data packages provided by your carrier. In Brazil, SIM cards with data plans are cheap and easy to activate. As a foreigner, you can activate and use SIM cards from TIM, Claro, and Oi. We recommend Claro. Read our guide to SIM cards and mobile plans for foreigners visiting Brazil.
- Bring a 2nd phone. That iPhone 4S in your drawer is perfect for navigating the city with apps. Phone theft is rampant in blocos and nightclubs. It can also hold your new Brazilian SIM card.
- Google Maps – pre-plan your route (by foot or Metro) and save them “offline” maps. Download our Google Map now.
- Bring your drivers license to nightclubs. ID is required on occasion. Dragging around your passport is not necessary.
- Avoid mosquitos – Aside from dengue fever, many mosquitos in Brazil are now carrying the zika virus. Bring your own DEET mosquito repellent . Pharmacies in Rio sell the cheap stuff.
- Debit/credit cards – Highly recommend one with a “chip.” Credit card cloning is still a problem in South America. A pre-paid Visa for small purchases and hotel guarantees is a good idea.
- Ask your front desk – All of the hotels on our list of gay-friendly places to stay in Rio know the city and are happy to help. Use them!
- Watch your drink! – Criminals who drug tourists usually target women, but in Brazil gay men are often targets.
- Be careful who you bring back to your hotel – At some hotels, you can walk directly to your elevator, some may ask for ID from your guest(s) When in doubt, you can always go to one of Rio’s many gay saunas.
- Wear shoes – Yes, your new Havaiana flip flops are cute, but the streets will be come a muddy mess of spilled beer and urine.
- Don’t sweat every little expense – The club that wants to charge a cover of R$20 … That’s about US$6.50 right now. Splurge!
- Be OK with the fact you won’t see it all – Don’t overload your agenda. Make a note of what you would like to come back for in 2018.
Online Resources During Carnival 2018
Sign-up for Gay Carnival in Rio Newsletter
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This gay guide to Carnival in Rio will give you everything you need to plan your trip before you go, and all of the information you need during Carnival week. Bookmark vamosgay.com/carnival-rio on web and mobile!